Sunday, April 23, 2017

COLOSSAL (2017)

Written & Directed by Nacho Vigalondo


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. April 9, 2017 11:15 AM



Romantic comedies have regularly followed a basic guideline; boy meets girl (insert cute way of meeting). Boy and girl fall in love. Boy (or occasionally girl to add a little variety) is not ready for the relationship or some other complication which drives the couple apart. The complicated situation is resolved and the couple reunite to live happily ever after. The end.

With "Colossal", filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, for the most part, has successfully upended our rom-com expectations by unexpectedly incorporating sci-fi conventions and pitch-black comedy. He also has Anne Hathaway, who has a long history as the romantic interest in many comedies, as the unusual focus of our story, playing a messy and drunken young woman who would not be any one's vision of a perfect partner. The movie has much more on it's mind than your average feel-good comedy, offering moments that are edgy, fanciful and a little bit disturbing.

Gloria (Hathaway) is a New York City chick with some problems. While unemployed for months, she hasn't made much effort in finding a new job. Gloria spends most of her free time staying out all night partying hard with her friends. Sick of her neglect and reckless behavior, Gloria's fed-up British boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens) packs her bags and kicks her out of his apartment.

With few options and no where else to go, Gloria heads upstate back to her old family home to crash until she comes up with a plan. She runs into Oscar (Jason Sudekis), an old school friend and they reconnect. He now runs his late father's bar and hangs out after hours drinking with his buddies, Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell) all night. This is clearly Gloria's perfect idea of how to spend an evening.

As we learn more about Gloria and Oscar, our impression of them begins to shift. Finally realizing her blackout drunk behavior and bad choices are interfering with her life, a good-spirited, better-functioning Gloria emerges as she attempts to clean-up her act while Oscar, a sweet, nice guy who gives her a job at his bar and furniture for her empty house, begins to display a darker, malicious edge once Gloria doesn't properly reciprocate his feelings for her.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world in Seoul, Korea, a gigantic monster suddenly appears terrorizing and causing destructive havoc in the city. How this seemingly unrelated incident is connected to Gloria is what makes the film hilariously subversive and wonderfully ingenious.

After discovering her part (although, to be fair, accidental) in the death and destruction in Seoul through this monster, Gloria is understandably upset. But the arrival of a giant Transformer-type robot there further complicates the situation when the identity behind it is someone that she knows and is about to make her life even more miserable.

The early film work of the Spanish director involved low-budget horror and science-fiction with "Colossal" being his first major-scale, English-language feature. Mr. Vigalondo certainly has experience appealing to fan boys but has challenged himself by adding a little heart, emotion and even a feminist angle to this surreal, sci-fi adventure.

While the mixing of genres and tones may confuse some, the wild and daring performance of Ms Hathaway will set them straight. Despite the distraction of her ill-advised 2011 Oscar hosting gig, her underwhelming acceptance speech for her Best Supporting Actress win for "Les Misérables" and the subsequent troll group, "the Hathahaters" that sprang from all that, the actress reminds us here of her great talent, managing to make her character funny and appealing in spite of some of her less appealing traits. Mr. Sudekis also surprises, as he's usually seen on screen as a buddy or the perfect catch, by slowly revealing that the seemingly considerate Oscar is not at all what he appears to be.

Wonderfully absurd and unexpectedly moving, "Colossal" never goes anywhere near where you think it will go and that's what makes it one of the most striking and original films of the year.