Jason Sudeikis and Anne Hathaway confront an unchecked id in ‘Colossal’
She’s been out of work for a year – a year of sloppy nights spent getting blackout drunk, and painful days fighting killer hangovers. Clearly, Gloria has her demons.
And one of them just became real.
That’s the wild idea behind the surreal “Colossal,” in which a young American woman’s larger-than-life issues manifest themselves as a gargantuan creature trampling South Korea.
So, you know, just your basic romantic drama/addiction story/giant monster story.
“Colossal” is definitely unique, and it has a big, rich female character – two of the things that probably drove Anne Hathaway to sign on. Gloria is fierce, flawed, flirty and ultimately formidable – and Hathaway embraces her conflicts and contradictions.
Unfortunately, the movie’s a little contradictory, too.
Its director, Nacho Vigalondo, has mostly worked in sci-fi and horror films, and while his affection for old guy-in-a-rubber-suit monster movies is obvious, his grasp of his movie’s more serious material is a lot less confident.
Is it an examination of addiction? A comment on repressed rage? It might be, but the film doesn’t offer much beyond its gigantic, sky-scraping metaphor. Its symbolism never goes beyond its own symbols – just as its moments of comedy have everything except jokes.
It’s not particularly helped by a supporting cast – a tiresome Dan Stevens, wan Austin Stowell – who fade into the background. The great Tim Blake Nelson is wasted in an underwritten part, and while Jason Sudeikis shows some new range as an old school friend, it’s not a character that really holds together.
Of course, Hathaway would normally be the focus of the film given the part, but surrounded by such thin writing and bland performances, she needs to carry the whole film by neccessity. And she nearly does.
Her face – with its supersized eyes and lips and hair – was made for closeups, and she can convey, with a shocked and frozen stare, a decade of bad choices. It’s a great performance, full of risky, unlikable moments another actress wouldn’t dare indulge.
Gloria is the kind of damaged character Hathaway rarely gets to play – “Rachel Getting Married” is when she first really showed she could – but she deserved a better movie. One with clearer writing, richer characters, stronger actors.
And a lot less oh-my-Godzilla surrealism.
Ratings note: The film contains strong language, violence, drug references and sexual situations.