Colossal

May 1, 2017 at 9:00 am | Posted in 2017 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

After a month of just not been particularly inspired by anything out there (I did try to watch “After the Storm” but slept through so much of it, I wasn’t able to write a review), I thought I would give the quirky new movie, “Colossal,” a shot. This is by far the largest film from Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo (“Open Windows,” “The ABCs of Death”) and I have not seen any of this other work. So, I don’t know if this one is typical of him but it’s certainly not typical of anything else. I don’t want to give much of the plot away, as the real joy I had with this film was in trying to figure it out. Basically, a giant monster appears over Seoul and it is apparently being unconsciously controlled by Anne Hathaway. Strangeness ensues from there. The cast for the film is incredibly small. With the exception of some minor background characters, there is only Anne’s character, her boyfriend (played by Dan Stevens from “Downton Abbey” fame), the bar owner she grew up with (Jason Sudeikis from SNL, “We’re the Millers” and the “Horrible Bosses” movies), and two of his friends, played by Tim Blake Nelson (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) and Austin Stowell (“Bridge of Spies”). And even that felt like a bit too much. I can’t see the value the two friends brought to the film at all, other than to distress the audience with their utter inaction. But, perhaps that was the point. This whole, odd production felt like it was playing at being a giant (excuse the pun) metaphor, even if I wasn’t sure what the metaphor was. Hathaway’s character is clearly an alcoholic and, for much of the film, I thought the monster was a metaphor for the destruction alcohol can cause in a person’s life; it can lay waste to your soul (get it? Soul/Seoul?). But, then the film suddenly took a much, much darker turn. Then the metaphor seemed to be playing at something much more disturbing and less clear. In the end, I couldn’t figure out what Vigalondo was trying to say and how the pieces were supposed to fit together. In particular, the ending just didn’t seem to fit. As satisfying as it was for the audience, it belied the whole metaphor because it bore no resemblance to real life and felt to me like it minimized the problem it seemed to be exploring. Hathaway does a good job of being the same charming, slightly goofy character we have seen before but the real strength of the film is in Sudeikis’s performance. He has real acting chops, beyond just comedy, and he gives a powerful performance in this genre defying film. The trailers make it look like a comedy/sci-fi film but it’s really a drama, and one grimly determined to get its message across. Vigalondo is trying to take on a colossal topic and I give him real credit for telling his story in a unique way. There are things that do really work here. It’s just not enough for me to recommend the movie. That isn’t to say I wish I had skipped it. I am actually glad I saw it; I just wouldn’t see it again.

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