The current trend in film seems to be re-makes/re-boots/re-imaginings and endless, endless sequels for films that perhaps we may have cared about years ago, but now we seriously have to question whether we still do. Of course there is still originality in film, but it is often hard to come by, saved for an exclusive elite in the form of small, unknown indie films, foreign language films, and other less mainstream options. Last year’s ‘Swiss Army Man’ was divisive, but also refreshingly unique (I was one of those who didn’t care for it!), and in a similar vein comes this year’s ‘Colossal’, boasting some impressive talent and promising to tap into that magical notion; that films can, and should still be original.
For me, the trailers gave off something of a slightly quirkier ‘A Monster Calls’ vibe with its towering monster figure, but it couldn’t be further from that fantastic and fantastical tear-jerker if it tried. I will do my best to avoid plot spoilers here as this really is a film you should go into without knowing too much, although perhaps not completely blind as it might catch you incredibly off-guard! In short, it is about Gloria (Hathaway), a struggling alcoholic who after a break-up decides to return to her hometown. So far so normal, but soon reports start emerging about a giant creature that is attacking Seoul in South Korea, and Gloria realises she has a strange connection to this phenomenon.
‘Colossal’ is a film which will quite rightly get people talking, and you still might not have a firm grasp of exactly what is going on even after you’ve seen it, but it is also perhaps deliberately ambiguous. This is intelligent film-making which refuses to hand answers to you on a plate, but far from being pretentious, it’s laid back and undeniably “cool” approach makes it incredibly endearing.
In layman’s terms, ‘Colossal’ is something of an allegory for the destructive power of alcoholism, with the monster providing a somewhat extreme, but nonetheless important, physical embodiment of the ability it has to wreak havoc and destruction. See, I said it was absolutely nothing like ‘A Monster Calls’! If you’ve ever heard the phrase of someone “battling their personal demons”, there is something of that in this film, with the “demons” in question appearing as both gigantic, city-wrecking monsters, and the regular-sized and seemingly “regular” people, whose intentions are perhaps not to be trusted. Whilst the concept and ideas of this film are grand in scale and ambitious in scope, it is amazing just how naturally this is conveyed, and how easy it is to buy into. There’s enough substance, and crucially, likeable and well developed characters to cement this idea, and they sell it completely.
Whilst the subject matter might seem bleak, and there is undoubtedly room for genuine moments of human drama, it had a surprisingly dark comedic edge to it as well. This adds a delightful charm and warmth to the film, and despite its unusual ideas and thematically rich notions it is very easy to like and genuinely funny in places.
For those who have perhaps slated Anne Hathaway in the past (something of which I have never really been able to understand), ‘Colossal’ will instantly silence them, as she is really quite fantastic here. She nails the goofy awkwardness of the character, and sells the uniqueness of the story so convincingly, which is absolutely crucial in making it work. Her performance suspends our disbelief completely, meaning the idea of a giant monster being controlled by her brain on the other side of the world never seems like it is weird at all, and this is no easy feat!
‘Colossal’ is one of those undefinable films, one which might leave you head-scratching, and one which will leave you completely tongue-tied when you attempt to describe the plot to anyone else! It is in many ways indescribable, so refreshingly unique that you do really need to see it for yourself to make a judgement. I can fully accept that this film will once again prove to be divisive, but it will certainly get people talking, and that is something at least. ‘Colossal’ is dazzlingly unique, oddly charming, endlessly inventive and quite unlike anything else I have seen. Definitely worth a watch, and good or bad, it will certainly stick with you afterwards.
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudekis, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens