'Colossal' review: Funny, absurd, and disturbing
When Gloria (Anne Hathaway) arrives home to her boyfriend who is already exasperated about her nightly drunken escapades, she doesn't expect that he would break up with her and have her evicted from his Manhattan apartment.
Without a job and a home, she returns to her hometown where she reunites with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), the childhood bud she barely remembers. Oscar offers her a job at his bar. While Gloria is coming to terms with her situation, a gigantic reptilian creature suddenly appears thousands of miles away in Seoul, wreaking havoc on the metropolis' citizens. Somehow, Gloria starts to believe that she has a connection to the mysterious city-stomping monster.
Ludicrous to the core
Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal is ludicrous and absurd to the core. The greatest feat of the film, however, is that it makes such ludicrousness and absurdity indispensable elements to its irresistible effect.
In essence, the film is a wit-filled portrait of small-town routine, one where an obnoxious and selfish city slicker returns to her roots for a humbling sampling of the simple life she somehow forgot. Coupled with the bizarre occurrences happening halfway around the world, the film transforms into something else entirely, something arguably more cinematic than its central relationship drama can ever imagine or achieve.
What is most fascinating about Vigalondo's experiment, however, is how the connection between Gloria and her monster in Korea feels wildly spontaneous, more a product of childish whim rather than sophisticated narrative engineering. It is its inclination to refreshing improvisation that makes the entire thing work. It knows it will never make sense and instead of laboring to patch loopholes, it simply plods along its astounding finale with all the confidence it can muster.
It is this consciousness of its obvious artifices that keeps the film from descending down the dull path to self-importance. It just never gets too serious enough to be burdensome. It feels like a sketch that never tires of its own running punchline.
Folly of privilege
This isn't to say that Colossal is nothing more than an adventurous display of how seemingly disparate elements can seamlessly gel by sheer tenacity.
There is actually quite a lot to gather from Vigalondo's spirited film, if one attempts to make sense of its humorous contrivances. In its droll attempt to connect the paltry banter of problematic thirty-somethings who make dilemmas out of unresolved childhood issues with the catastrophic events that happen an ocean away, the film molds itself to be a scathing but funny critique of American privilege and its consequential folly of equating most of the world's conflicts with its petty quarrels.
Sure, Vigalondo does equate Seoul's troubles with the dynamics of Gloria and Oscar's rekindled relationship.
In fact, Gloria's climactic conflict is that her freedom hinges on the lives of innocent souls in Seoul who are not even aware that their lives are dependent on the frivolous affairs of a washed up girl with a washed up boy in a washed up town.
Closeness to reality
What Colossal manages to project so clearly is the grave absurdity of such inequity, how such self-proclaimed privilege of a dominant culture makes everything else nothing more than by-products and aftereffects of domestic squabbles.
It is hilarious the way Vigalondo presents it in the film in such a matter-of-factly fashion within twisted genre conventions, but its implications are quite disturbing in its closeness to reality. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.