‘Colossal’ – A Fantastic Fest 2016 Review

Colossal – A Fantastic Fest 2016 Review

 Colossal is a cult classic by design. It feeds the modern post-fuck-up in us all with a theme we can’t deny, adding monsters, hangovers, and, surprisingly, a lot of heart. It creates a perfect coming-of-age stew for the under 40 set. What starts out of a typical, quirky American indie film turns into a clever genre bender, and, dare I say, all out crowdpleaser.

Director/writer Nacho Vigalondo (a Fantastic Fest staple), execute his ambitious ideas with endless skill…and joy. When his characters struggle, you empathize with them, even when they’re making the worst decisions imaginable. It’s a careful balancing act, and a gamble for sure. Happily, it pays off.

The setup for Colossal isn’t necessarily simple, but here it goes. Gloria (Anne Hathaway) tries to deal with her alcoholism by going back to her hometown. Once there, she reconnects with her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). They quickly indulge each others bad habits and become drinking buddies. After a particularly heavy couple of nights, the two learn that they could in fact be connected to the monsters suddenly appearing and destroying Seoul, Korea.

Follow me? Don’t worry about it – you’ll get it when you see the film.

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So what do monsters and Anne Hathaway have in common? A lot, it seems. In a career redefiner, the actress that everyone loves to hate steers away from her “Anne Hathaway-isms” with Gloria. She’s charming, full of faults, sad, and sometimes even gritty, tackling her character with a wounded, broken sense of hope. We want her to win. This an unforgettable role that will likely carry the next ten years of her career.

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And while Hathaway is a revelation, Sudeikis is an equal standout. He plays against type in the role of Oscar, and his success in the more ominous scenes could very well open a new path for his career – that of the bad guy. I’ve always been a fan of his jocular, all-American vibe, but he’s tapped into something incredible here.

Ok, so what about these monster? Real talk: sometimes they’re the show stealers. Not only are they both scary (when stomping the buildings) and amusing (when patting their heads or dancing), they are visually exciting. Designed with a special love of monsters (by a person after my own heart), both the reptile and the robot are what truly make this film unique. They are extensions of the human characters, but are beasts all their own.

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Colossal is first and foremost an allegory for poor behavior – in this context, alcohol abuse, perpetual self-destructiveness, and selfish acts. We all contend with the things that burden us, and this create a universality that resonates from scene one. For Gloria, it’s her sense of worth, which leads to her to drinking. For Oscar, it’s much the same thing, but he’s never experienced a true sense of accomplishment, so his behavior sways darker than Gloria’s. When the two collide, it’s a destructive event that the world will not soon forget.

The movie isn’t breaking any new narrative ground. You’ve seen this premise before – in order to grow up, you must conquer your demons – but you have never seen it packaged like this. I’m a huge fan of he reinvention of story, and Vigalndo has not only reinvented it, he’s smashed it to pieces and built it back up with his own vision. I can’t wait to watch it again.

One comment on “‘Colossal’ – A Fantastic Fest 2016 Review

  1. Pingback: A 'Colossal' Interview with Nacho Vigalondo -

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