Colossal SXSW Film Review
Film is reviewed from the 2017 SXSW Film Festival screening.
A young girl along with her mother are looking for a lost doll in a Seoul park. She searches while her mother keeps trying to get her to give up her quest. She finally spots the doll and goes over to retrieve it. Just as she clutches the doll to her chest, a cracking sound comes from the sky, and the child looks up in terror at the sky.
We cut to present-day New York City, where Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is clumsily letting herself into an apartment. She drunkenly stumbles down the hallway, to be confronted by Tim (Dan Stevens), her boyfriend of the past year. He is eating breakfast in the kitchen as Gloria makes up a story that she was waylaid by a friend and ended up sleeping at her apartment. Tim angrily reacts to the apparently made-up story and tells Gloria that he has had enough. He has packed her bags and does not want to see her in the apartment when he gets back from work. Tim leaves, and Gloria is shell-shocked and just sits there. A quick knock at the front door and then a steady stream of partygoers let themselves into the apartment, and it’s apparent this morning-after party is something that has happened in the past. Gloria remains where she is staring off into space, not sure what her next move is.
We cut to a small-town neighborhood, and a cab drives to a pleasant looking house. Gloria gets out and gathers her bags to make her way to the house. She looks under the welcome mat and gets the keys to the house. Once inside, it’s obvious that the house has not been in use for a while with dust on the floors and absolutely every speck of furniture is gone. Gloria looks around and sighs. She wakes up the next morning and reacts to her stiff neck, a result of sleeping on the floor.
We next see Gloria coming out of a small-town store, having bought a rather large item that she carries in a bag over her shoulder. As she walks down the street heading toward her house, an old pickup truck passes her, and then suddenly stops. It backs up and out pops Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a childhood friend of Gloria’s. They quickly catch up, and he offers to give her a ride. It turns out Oscar is now running his late father’s bar and offers to take Gloria there. Never one to turn down a free drink or two, Gloria says yes. It’s a ride that will change her life forever.
Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo brings us an unusual tale of part Science Fiction and part domestic abuse film, with a splash of alcoholism thrown in. It’s strange mix with giant monsters appearing straight from those bad 60’s Japanese larger than life reptile movies. At first used for comic effect and then later as symbolism between the struggle between good and evil, the monsters appear half way across the world, in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a world that is foreign to Gloria, seemly so far away that what she does can’t possibly affect what happens in that part of the world. And that’s Vigalondo’s point, that we live in a global community, no one or no country is isolated from another, we are all connected.
Aside from a few small supporting roles, this film revolves around the relationship between Oscar and Gloria. When we first meet Oscar, he seems in awe of Gloria, someone who has gotten out of the neighborhood and made something of themselves. Oscar, being saddled with his Dad’s old bar, had tried to make it his own, remodeling half of it, before he ran out of money. It’s important to note that Oscar has cordoned off the old portion of the bar, hidden by a false wall and it’s not until Gloria enters the picture that he is willing and able to open up the older half of the bar.
Hathaway is asked to carry this film, and at first, it’s rather easy, for Gloria is an alcoholic, who can stay up and drink with the boys until the sun comes up. The biggest problem with Colossal is that Hathaway’s character is very one dimensional. We never really know why Gloria drinks so much, never actually finding out what demons that she is trying to get away from. Hathaway is what I call a pretty drunk, someone we can laugh at, and not be too concerned with because, other than a boyfriend that drops her, her drinking never seems to really get her in trouble. Her realization that her being intoxicated could cause other people pain seems shallow and too simply realized.
Jason Sudeikis has a much meatier part. At first, Oscar seems too nice to a fault, going out of his way to help Gloria get back on her feet, and yes, he realizes that she is not doing as well as she says she is when they first meet. We soon see some signs that maybe Oscar may not be quite as decent at heart as we hoped. It’s a complex role, and Sudeikis does a good job keeping us guessing just what his motivations are. There seems to be a bit of menace that Sudeikis lets near the surface early on in the film, and it always seems to be lurking in the dark, waiting to come out.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this film, but I just don’t think there is as much to it as Nacho Vigalondo wants us to believe that there is. Much like the Japanese monsters, the film is pretty much what you see on the surface; there’s not a lot of substance lying beneath the water. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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