Friday, November 3, 2017

Movie Review: Colossal (2016)

Colossal (2016) written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a vapid party girl whose been mooching off her boyfriend for a long time. He's tired of the routine and her irresponsibility, so he kicks her out of his New York City apartment. Penniless, she goes back to her hometown and moves into the empty family home. She reconnects with Oscar, an elementary school friend who now owns a local bar. She takes a job there and takes up drinking again, perhaps messing up her chance to sort things out. Until she sees a report on the news that a gigantic kaiju has been attacking Seoul, South Korea. She realizes that she has a connection with the monster, so a whole new level of responsibility falls on her like a ton of bricks. And she needs to figure out her relationships with Oscar, another cute guy in town, and the ex in New York City.

The movie is a very odd blend of comedy and drama. The tonal shifts are uneven in the first half; by the second half, the movie is a straight-up drama dealing with moral responsibility and obsession. A few jokes are sprinkled in but I find it hard to describe the back half as a comedy. Unfortunately, the advertising and the posters make it look more like a comedy than it really is.

Even though I found the tonal shift off-putting, the most interesting story is Gloria's journey from fun party girl to a more serious and mature person. Why she is connected to the monster is less important than what she's going to do about that connection. She realizes that her actions have consequences (though obviously they did before, just not on such a large scale) and has to make hard choices for the good of others rather than herself. You'd think that would make the movie preachy, but the situation is complicated enough that it doesn't come off as preachy. The science fiction story exists to dramatize the human interest story. The actors do a fine job and make her change more believable (and more moving) than it looks in print.

Recommended, with the caveat that the drama far outweighs the comedy.

The movie is brilliantly discussed on A Good Story is Hard to Find Episode 169.

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