Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is struggling with alcoholism and depression. She is back in her small town, and works at a bar with her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Gloria wakes up hungover one morning and discovers that a monstrous kaiju has been destroying buildings in Seoul, millions of miles away from her. She does not think much of it, but as her drunken nights continue alongside the kaiju attacks, Gloria quickly realizes the two may be connected.
Colossal is a wild ride from start to finish. The trailers may have spoiled the central conceit that drives the Film, but they have not ruined the twists and turns Writer/Director Nacho Vigalondo’s Film takes over the course of its 110-minute running time. He consistently subverts audience expectations, taking what I initially believed would be a marriage between the little-remembered Rachel Getting Married and Godzilla, and then transforms it into something drastically different. It is a dangerous balancing act for a Film to flip through multiple genres, and Vigalondo is keenly aware that the film could come careening to a full stop at any given moment. Colossal feels tonally reckless as a result, but you likely will not even notice. You will be too busy enthralled waiting to see what comes next.
The reason Vigalondo succeeds where so many others have failed is due entirely to the performances by Hathaway and Sudeikis. Their initial character introductions border on parody with how similar they are to past roles, but once the genres begin to twist, those archetypes are all but completely tossed aside. What emerges are bold and distinct characters that feel at once natural and completely out of their element. I had no doubt that Hathaway would masterfully adapt and roll with everything Vigalondo throws at Gloria, but I was genuinely floored by how terrific Sudeikis is as Oscar. He has been a stand-out comedic performer ever since his days on SNL, but he redefines everything you thought he was capable of here. He brings an intense and poignant depth to what could have easily been a one-note character, and nearly overshadows Hathaway in the process.
While they are not anywhere near as magnificent as Hathaway and Sudeikis, the supporting cast are great in their small turns. Austin Stowell is delightfully clueless, whereas Tim Blake Nelson basks in a quiet sadness that I wish could have been explored deeper. And 2017 wonder child Dan Stevens has a lot of fun in his small but pivotal role as Gloria’s ex-boyfriend Tim.
I watched Colossal for the first time at the tail end of TIFF last fall, and have been clamouring for the opportunity to watch it again ever since. It is a spectacular Film that revels in the dangers of smashing together genres that you would never imagine could mix so vividly. The bizarre tone and complete unpredictability make for a riveting experience you will not soon forget. I can only hope this means we will be seeing a whole lot more of Vigalondo’s work in the future.
Mongrel Media unleashes COLOSSAL in select theatres Friday, April 21, 2017.