The year’s most original film has been billed as an action/comedy/drama and a black comedy but is COLOSSAL really either of these? Yes, there’s comedy – some of it black – and drama. Action though? Well, sort of. But there’s also some romance, psychodrama, social satire and cheesy kaiju (think Godzilla and Rodan). This genre-jumping film could have been a colossal mess but it’s not. It works!
COLOSSAL stars Anne Hathaway (LES MISÉRABLES) as Gloria, a 30-something party girl whose life has spun out of control. Her love of alcohol has already resulted in her losing her blog writing job and now her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; THE COBBLER), has had enough of her antics. When he throws her out of his posh New York flat, her only place left to go is home to New Jersey where her late parents’ house sits empty. Fortunately for her, no sooner does she arrive than she bumps into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis, RACE), a childhood friend who never left for the big city as Gloria had done. Oscar has since taken over his late father’s bar but he’s just killing time, tending the bar during the day and drinking until dawn with his two buddies, Garth (Tim Blake Nelson, O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?) and Joel (Austin Stowell, BRIDGE OF SPIES; WHIPLASH) until the cycle starts over again. Oscar sees that Gloria needs help so he offers her a job at the bar waitressing and also provides her with an old TV, as the house is unfurnished except for an inflatable mattress that Gloria has just bought for herself.
At this point, you wouldn’t be wrong to think that this is going to be one of those typical romcoms where both people save each other from themselves and find love along the way but here is where COLOSSAL shifts gears and delivers its first surprise. One afternoon, after waking up in a playground near her home, Gloria learns that a giant Godzilla-like monster has wreaked havoc on Seoul while she was passed out. Yes, THAT Seoul. As she watches the news footage on TV, she notices that the monster has the same curious tic that she has – they both scratch the top of their heads. Could there be a connection? She decides to test out her theory and, the next time the monster is attacking, she heads back to the playground, lifts one arm up and then both. To her shock, the monster does the same. But how can Gloria control a monster that’s a half a world away and what does it all mean? And how will she be able to explain it to everyone? Who would believe her anyway?
Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, whose first feature, a 2007 sci-fi thriller called TIMECRIMES (Los Cronocrímenes), received critical acclaim, has created a delightfully inventive story that’s really about control – giving it up, letting people take it away and the challenge of taking it back after you’ve lost it. As the story progresses, it bobs between being a comedy and, surprisingly, a revenge thriller, often effortlessly but not without a few hiccups along the way. Given Hathaway’s many fluff roles in the past, it’s easy to think that she wouldn’t have the acting chops to dig deep but she does it here… and she does it well, playing both the boozy babe and the seriously sober woman to perfection. Sudeikis, who also seems to want to break away from his comedic past, aptly shows that Oscar is a much more complex character that we initially think he is.
This is not a perfect film, especially the third act which goes off the rails a bit, but it certainly is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s well worth your time and money!
COLOSSAL will be screened on August 16th (Wednesday) and again on the 27th (Sunday) as part of the Cine Fan Summer International Film Festival 2017, which runs from August 15 – 29. For more information, please visit their website at www.cinefan.com.hk.
The film will open commercially in Hong Kong at the end of September.
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