Colossal is an uneven film with moments of brilliance so spectacular that I wrestle with the question of whether they’re enough to make it great. It tracks an alcoholic young woman (played by Anne Hathaway) who retreats to her hometown after the collapse of her relationship with her boyfriend. But her life isn’t the only thing that’s falling apart – thousands of miles away, Seoul is under attack from a giant monster. And Gloria finds herself suspecting that the two events are very much related…
This film soars on the strength of its twists, and to say much beyond that would be to spoil things. I had limited expectations of Colossal upon entering the cinema, but I found myself impressed by it despite its weaknesses.
For every long, aimless scene of drunk people rambling and making inane observations about the decor, there is a fantastic scene of personal discovery or revelation. It’s really quite rare to get a film like this, where you go from looking at your watch in one scene to being gripped by the next as soon as the plot drastically shifts gear.
I honestly couldn’t decide whether the wild unpredictability of Colossal was to its detriment or to its advantage until the final act, when an international flight marks the beginning of one of the best climaxes I can remember.
The themes explored here are fascinating and surprising. The men in Gloria’s life are meant to surprise us, with benign and reasonable exteriors gradually being peeled back over the film’s run time. As we learn more about them, suspicions and paranoia build until they reach almost unbearable levels. It makes for a surprisingly tense and engaging cinematic experience – as Gloria overcomes her apathy and begins to regain control of her life, the film finds its momentum and truly soars. It’s a fitting parallel, with the unevenness of the film making a neat metaphor for the instability of its protagonist.
This is the kind of film that deserves to be seen in theatres – it’s daring, inventive and it’s entirely accurate to say you ain’t seen nothing like it. Colossal’s considerable virtues outweigh its flaws.