Fantastic Fest Review: COLOSSAL (Nacho Vigalondo, 2016)
Generally speaking, if a movie is good enough to be selected as Fantastic Fest’s Closing Night Film, you’re in for something truly innovative and surprising- and Nacho Vigalondo, Writer/Director of COLOSSAL, absolutely knocks it out of the park.
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) has some stuff going on right now. She’s lost her way, descending into barely-functional alcoholism and erratic, irresponsible behavior. Her boyfriend’s had it, literally kicking her to the curb and leaving her no choice than to return to her hometown, scraping together a squatter’s existence in the old family home and looking for any kind of work that can keep her head above water. Lucky for her, childhood pal Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) took over the neighborhood bar when his dad passed away, and while working as a waitress/bartender might not the the healthiest choice for her, at least she’s got a new coffee klatch (including Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell)- one that prefers beer and scotch to caffeine- and they don’t judge too much when the sun comes up and you don’t gotta go home but you can’t stay here.
They’re good friends, actually: ones that provide furniture, a listening ear, and an open mind to Gloria’s theories- which are getting a little wild right about now. Gloria’s a Sad Gal, but her problems aren’t a hill of beans compared to what’s going on in Seoul, Korea right now. There’s a monster on the loose, a kaiju-sized menace that’s stomping around the metropolis half a world away. But there’s something odd about the attacks- the timing, the way it moves- that Gloria finds a bit too familiar to dismiss, especially after she’s got a few drinks on board.
Attention-seeking drama queen? Perhaps. Something more? Maaaaybe. But how to trust the newest town drunk when she starts some playground-level experiments and asks her new compatriots to help her figure out if she’s crazy, or just needs 30 days in the local Juicehead joint? What happens next is an exercise in rekindled friendship, giddy-faulty reasoning, guilt-exorcism, and the darkest corners of the id, including the resentful backlash of a misspent life, potential both stifled and lost, and the brutality of long-buried childhood trauma.
If this doesn’t sound like fun, allow me to correct that assumption: COLOSSAL is a BLAST. It’s a monster movie, mystery, and human fable all in one. It’s a hilarious, farcical, completely rewarding hopscotch of self-examination and sci-fi experiment, matching up the people we imagine ourselves to be with who we actually are, complete with the squirmy realities of our shortcomings writ large upon the world, both real and imagined. Kudos to both Hathaway and Sudeikis for their bravado and vulnerability as both peel back the brittle shells that shield them from the outside world, revealing the exposed, beastly, possibly abominable real-selves underneath.
MOVIE MOMENT: Playground Dance Party!
REEL RATING: 4 / 4