A monster movie with something on its mind, and levity and death aren’t faked? Dream no more. To understand this film, likely made for less than what a single scene cost in the next tentpole, is to understand the type of public humiliation its star Anne Hathaway has been subjected to in the past decade. Somewhere between her Oscar hosting gig and stepping on the stage to receive her statuette two years later a toxic, amnesic fog swept through the internet to inexplicably create the ‘Hathahaters’, despite the fact that she hadn’t ever said anything inflammatory (quite the opposite, actually). “Hathaway…seems to fit the broader cultural pattern in which we simply don’t find successful, ‘perfect’ women very likeable”, said a piece on NY Mag in 2013. On the surface Colossal, where Hathaway plays Gloria, an alcoholic writer who retreats to her cloudy hometown and the deserted playground and bar after being dumped by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens), looks like a deliberate push to recalibrate her from her past of princesses and helpless women, to try shake the togetherness that attached itself to her without reason into some messiness. But writer/director Nacho Vigalondo pulls Colossal as an ingenious bait-and-switch, making the film just as much about Hathaway out of the film as well as in it. When a monster starts materialising in Seoul during her daily walk through a park, imitating her movements and creating a path of destruction, she’s convinced that she’s at fault. Her apology, translated by an employee of the local Korean barbeque, quickly makes her popular, only to then be terrorised by someone else who can wreak havoc on the city. Gloria, like Hathaway, is torn down and controlled by the expectations of those around her, that sit far out of her grasp. If this sounds vague, it’s to preserve the smartly handled surprise of what transpires, Vigalondo pulling his sinister left turn while maintaining the film’s zany levity, which runs high despite the conceit being bloated at nearly two hours long. Hollywood likely won’t take notice of the film, of what it’s saying inside or out, but they should.

 

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