Technically, I’m in NaNoWriMo land, but my partner and I decided to keep up the movie habit we started in October, just scaled way back. So on Fridays we’ll be watching various movies. This time it was Colossal.
Anne Hathaway is Gloria, an unemployed reporter whose life has slipped into alcoholism and partying. She comes home from another night of partying to find that the boyfriend she’s living with has had enough and is dumping her. She moves back to the small town (for some reason I have it in my head that it’s somewhere in New Jersey but I couldn’t confirm it) she’s moved away from where her parent’s house is standing empty. At her lowest, most embarrassing moment, a former school friend sees her and takes her to the bar he owns. She spends the night drinking with him and his friends and goes home around the time that children are going to school, then passes out on the floor. She wakes up to find that the world has changed. It turns out that while she was passed out, footage began to surface of a colossal monster tearing through downtown Seoul before disappearing into thin air. As things progress, even more out of her control, and the monster keeps appearing and destroying Seoul, she finally finds a way out of her situation and starts working to make things better.
I really enjoyed this movie but it’s touted as a hilarious comedy and it didn’t work for me as such. There are funny and heartfelt moments in there, for sure, but overall the movie read to me as a drama. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I hadn’t seen or heard anything about it before we watched it so I didn’t know what to expect and as such this might have been a disappointment if I had seen the marketing material. And to explain why, we veer into spoiler territory.
So that former schoolfriend, Oscar, played to perfection by Jason Sudeikis, gave me a creepy vibe from the very first moment he pulled up next to Hathaway’s Gloria, walking with a very obviously heavy thing in her hands (and on her back, to be honest). I mean, it might have been just movie physics, but given how deliberate the rest of the movie felt, him recognizing someone he hadn’t seen in 10 or 15 years, walking down the road, heading the same way he was in his car felt suspect. And the veneer of friendship suffered another blow when, instead of offering to help, he was so delighted at Gloria being forced to move back to an empty home that he asks her to hang out. At a bar. Then proceeds to give her drinks until she’s so drunk she doesn’t remember anything about what happened or what they talked about that night. And when he turns up with a GIANT tv to just give to her, I was convinced that he was not a good guy. To the credit of this movie, I never even suspected that it was anything sexual, more along the lines of “I’m miserable, you’re miserable, so let’s make sure that you’re content staying miserable” And what do you know, that’s exactly what ends up happening. Like I said, it all feels very deliberate and it’s kind of brilliant.
I loved the way the movie used the gimmick of Gloria being the monster of Seoul (oh I see what they did there) to parallel her journey of going out of control with her alcoholism and her life, in general. The monster is used as a way to show her just how out of control she is and it’s kind of beautiful. I mean, Hathaway has always been a great actor, but that moment of muddled, drunken realization that she had killed someone really hit me in the feels. And the way they draw attention to that change is through Oscar’s temper tantrum about Gloria being about to put her life on track. After she sleeps with one of his friends and has the gall to not be ashamed about it, is when the claws come out. And again, it’s beautifully done. He doesn’t actually care that she slept with the friend (Joel, played by Austin Stowell), just that she did it deliberately and had fun instead of shame. So he uses the threat to Seoul as a bargaining chip to try to get her drinking again, trying to make his own choices be her fault unless she chooses to inhabit the same messed up headspace he does. And I know I’m getting repetitive but it’s beautifully done. But none of it was actually hilariously funny to me. More of a sad jaunt through the mind of an abuser. All in all, though, I have no doubt I’ll watch this movie again.