Colossal concerns Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an unemployed young woman who has just been kicked out by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) for spending too much time drunk out on the town. Gloria returns to her hometown to stay at her family’s old, empty house. She runs into a childhood acquaintance, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who helps her out with some furniture and offers her a job at his bar. So far, this might sound like the setup for a romantic comedy, but the movie has other things going on. On the other side of the world, in Seoul, South Korea, a giant monster appears out of nowhere and wreaks havoc on the city. And Gloria soon discovers that she has something to do with that.This movie is pretty sneaky. It plays all sorts of clever tricks with familiar genre elements, and ends up subverting a lot of them on the way to telling a very human story of a flawed person trying to do better. The movie takes the visual meat of the kaiju film and ties the literal destruction of a city to personal emotional chaos; its monsters standing in for the horrors of an abusive, controlling relationship, all the while exploring the way that people engage with disasters on the other side of the world.As much as this story takes advantage of the familiar kaiju visual, it lives as much off of standard romcom beats. It casts an ominous shade on what in other movies would be treated simply as cutesy behavior. There is always just something off about the relationships in this film, the characters never as harmless as they might first seem. And as the film goes on, it reveals layers of damage and darkness that casts an even grimmer shadow on all their previous interactions. Self-destruction soon leaves a trail of actual, physical destruction in its wake, the internal turmoil of these characters creating a body count.The film ends up playing a little fast and loose with the psychology in the end, but it still earns its moments. It’s built in such a way that it doesn’t even have to show the monsters to convey the horror of what’s being done. And it gets really clever in the details, the film able to express a greater indifference among the general population of the setting in little background bits. The film revels in the great contrast between those who are simply witnessing the disaster, and those who have an emotional stake in it.Anne Hathaway delivers a terrific performance that somewhat recalls her turn in the late Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married. She is once again a mess of a human being, and she is once again able to make it about much more than that. There doesn’t really seem to be a whole lot of background to the character in the script, but Hathaway tells those stories anyway. Equally good is Jason Sudeikis, who channels his sturdy, middle America maleness into something rather complex.Colossal is pretty great, though it might not be what you expect. It isn’t really a monster movie, and it isn’t really as fun and quirky as the trailers make it out to be. It is fun and quirky, but it also gets much darker than that. In fact, the film might indulge a bit too much at points, falling in love with its own ability to delve into the darkness of its characters, spending a little too much time hitting the same grim nail on the head. But as a whole, it’s a unique, rather rousing piece of art that deserves some attention. And in a time when every big movie is really just a collection of scenes of empty, glorified destruction, Colossal emerges as a healthy antidote.
COLOSSAL IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.