Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around


Review: Colossal

10:15 AM on 04.05.2017 // Hubert Vigilla
  @HubertVigilla

The genre mash, it was a kaiju smash

One of my least favorite movie cliches goes something like this:

A person who lives in the city has an existential crisis. They reluctantly return to their hometown, where things are much simpler and quieter. The main character reconnects with an old friend (who is prettier or more handsome than they remember), sparking a romance that causes a reassessment of fundamental values. Our hero decides to eschew city life for the calm, quotidian beauty of the home they left behind, as if this place, some sand in the oyster, has become a pearl--or, maybe, it was a pearl all along.

Ugh. How treacly.

Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal nods to that cliche and then upends it, opting for a much pricklier exploration of bad relationships and self-destructive urges. In its own way and on its own terms, Colossal has secured a spot on my list for the best films of 2017.

Colossal
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Rating: R
Release Date: April 7, 2017 (limited)

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) skulks into her boyfriend's apartment and gets kicked out. She's an alcoholic and self-absorbed, and like any real life fuck-up, Gloria excels at fucking up her attempts at getting un-fucked-up. She moves into her empty childhood home. She sleeps on the floor in an uninflated air mattress; she rolls into it like the filling in a burrito. A childhood friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) helps get her back on her feet with a job at his bar and a little bit of furniture.

And for some reason, whenever Gloria does a certain thing in the morning, a giant monster shows up in Seoul, South Korea. And for some reason, Gloria is able to control it.

I love absurd conceits like this. The weirdness is the whole allure of the world created, and it serves as a foundation for some larger metaphor. Once the goofiness of the set-up clears (it doesn't entirely), Vigalondo and his cast take it deadly serious, as if all this strangeness has life-or-death consequences. That's weirdness wielded right rather than weirdness for its own sake. All of this is in service to a pomo allegory about (initially) fucking up.

Using the kaiju as a guide, I could see Gloria drunkenly careening through her entire life without any regard for the lives she's affected. When you're drunk or depressed or your life is in such haze that you've become oblivious to the world around you, it can be difficult to see that you're hurting others. In Gloria's case, pissing off bosses or boyfriends is nothing, but now she sees news footage of how bad choices lead to the suffering of dozens, even hundreds, of total strangers. The guilt is immense because the scale of moral consequence is magnified to an absurd level.

It's an inversion, and I think an intentional one, of the idea that one death is a tragedy while a million deaths are a statistic. For Gloria, those interpersonal, everyday interactions aren't enough to cause a major existential reassessment, but at this scale with so many people at stake, suddenly the implication of a city in peril calls attention to a one-on-one ethical interaction. To put it another way, the cries of a hundred strangers somehow magnify the faces of the people in front of her. Ditto her own face in the mirror.

Hathaway has a great way of conveying the moral shock of it all in her eyes and on her face. Sometimes she winces with a "Did I do that?" expression, like spilling a drink. Other times she's doubled over with guilt, bawling, as if watching people in front of her suffer; worse, she feels too helpless to do anything about it. And yet there's more to Colossal than this single metaphor played out to its logical conclusion. The conclusion is not so clear cut.

There are different kinds of monsters in Colossal. Without giving anything away, the film focuses just as much on the people we know as it does on the inner demons we're not quite acquainted with. The monster in Seoul gives the audience a projection of Gloria's interior life. As I watched Gloria with her ex-boyfriend and certain people in her hometown, I got a clear, sad, familiar portrait of her interpersonal life filled with "nice guys", toxic masculinity, and different forms of abuse. Most men treat her like a child, like a sexual conquest, like an irredeemable fuck up, like someone beneath and always dependent on them.

Maybe Gloria's monster, destroyer of cities, is not just a kaiju made of her many fuck-ups. Maybe it's also a response to the men who put her down, demean her, and try to keep her compliant, weak, insecure, and small. It's self-destruction writ large on the one hand, but maybe it's also a strong and ennobling part of Gloria.

Good symbols have different--sometimes even contradictory--facets to them, just like complicated people and lovable stories. From one angle, a dazzling light, from others a murky view of the world, but it's all of a piece. I keep turning Colossal around in my mind, admiring its angles and performances, how it fits together in an asymmetrical way. Mostly, though, I love how seriously it takes Gloria in the face of such gargantuan weirdness.




THE VERDICT: 86/100

86
Colossal - Reviewed by Hubert Vigilla

Exceptional. One of the best films of the year. You should see it immediately.


Hubert Vigilla, Editor-at-Large
 Follow Blog + disclosure HubertVigilla Tips
Hubert Vigilla is a writer living in Brooklyn, which makes him completely indistinguishable from 4/5 of people who live in Brooklyn. He writes about film, television, books, music, politics, cu... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

Flixist's previous coverage:
Colossal


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant
Ads on Flixist may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Test

Benefits of Human Growth Hormones

The Power of Social Media for You Small Business

Five Reasons Why Slumber is Ideal for Your Fitness

Constantly on the Road? Use these 7 Best Apps for Watching Movies on your iPhone

Why I love Cinema

Best old movies you can watch on Netflix

Cricket Betting Tips Free For All By Cricket King

6 best TV series on Netflix

My Favorite Blockbuster Moment

 Add your impressions


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -