Colossal is a profoundly weird fucking movie, and not even in the ways you might expect. When the buzz about an “Anne Hathaway turns into a giant monster” flick started making the rounds it initially called to mind pulpy, tongue in cheek visions of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, but Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo(VHS Viral)’s finished product is much more complex than that, blending the social hurdles of displaced, maladjusted 30-somethings into the usually mindless Pacific Rim-style monster mash.
Hathaway plays a despondent woman who exiles herself to her rural hometown after her relationship crumbles under the weight of her alcoholism and irresponsibility, only to reconnect with a childhood friend (SNL alum Jason Sudeikis) whose kinship and warmth seems too good to be true, and probably is. Oh, and there’s also a giant monster tearing up South Korea that Hathaway may or may not have some mysterious connection to. Garden State this ain’t, but the manifestation of the downtrodden Hathaway’s ghoulish alter ego isn’t your typical cut and dried, Jekyll and Hyde / Incredible Hulk type of situation either.
Hathaway nails her character in a way that makes you instantly sympathetic to her all too relatable plight, but Sudeikis is on another level here. You’ll literally grow to absolutely despise him as the film goes on, though perhaps the cartoonishness of his villainy makes the human aspect of Hathaway’s struggles a bit harder to swallow. Sudeikis’ character runs his bar, where the characters all get drunk every night, presumably for free, like it’s some sort of medieval fiefdom, like he’s fucking Gaston from Beauty and the Beast or something. It’s hard to believe that the other characters, especially Hathaway’s love interests (Austin Stowell and Legion‘s Dan Stevens) wouldn’t stand up to him at some point, especially when his continued abuse of her gets uncomfortably physical (hell, after watching this I wanted to go find him and kick his ass) but perhaps the Fairy Tale-esque nature of his dominion is just meant to heighten the film’s surreality.
So the human drama hits home, and the monster action plays well both as sci-fi spectacle and comic relief, but do the two halves gel? Well, maybe. The tonal shifts here can be whiplash inducing, shades of James Gunn’s similarly troubling real life comic book satire Super, but Vigalondo’s unique talent shines through, and his unique sensibility deserves to go on to conquer mainstream Hollywood just as Gunn’s has. Like Hathaway’s character, Colossal may require a bit more effort (read: multiple viewings) to unpack all of its baggage. Many will call Colossal an interesting failure. I wouldn’t go as far as failure, but it sure as hell is interesting.
Colossal opens everywhere on April 7th.