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Love Is Dead
by: Jerry Smith
Nacho Vigalondo is no stranger to making films that play within specific genres but deal with interesting and thoughtful ideas. TIMECRIMES played with time travel and the idea of trying to change the past and OPEN WINDOWS dealt with our obsession to be as close and knowing of the inner lives of celebrities as much as possible. Vigalondo has always been a strong storyteller and with this week's release of the Anne Hathaway/Jason Sudeikis-led COLOSSAL, the Spanish maverick filmmaker not only gives viewers an interesting and hilarious film filled with monsters and robots but one that has a huge amount of heart and is at times, very heartwrenching.
Gloria (Hathaway) is to put it right out there, a walking mess. Spending her nights blackout drunk and making excuses for her lifestyle, Gloria returns after a night of partying, to find her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens, THE GUEST, Legion, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) tired of dealing with her careless lifestyle and having packed her bags for her. Returning to her hometown and to her parents' emtpy house, Gloria eventually runs into her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), rekindling their friendship and leading to Gloria taking a job at Oscar's bar, a decision that ends up being a mistake for both of them. Still drinking pretty heavily, Gloria soon learns of a giani Kaiju monster attack happening in Seoul, Korea. When she notices certain nervous ticks that she has in common with the creature, it becomes apparent that there's a strong connection between the monster and herself, leading to a series of moments and decisions that come to be quite parallel between Gloria, Oscar and the creature in Korea.
While the setup of the film and even its marketing seem to be pushing the comedic aspects of the film front and center (and it IS quite funny at times), there's quite a bit of seriousness and depth in COLOSSAL, allowing the idea of alcoholism and an emotional breakdown to put looked at and addressed via the metaphor of becoming a monster and how our monsters can reveal who we really are as people. It's a very interesting concept and as Gloria begins to fully realize that her decisions and her exccessive drinking can affect other people, there's a level of heartbreak to her character. Gloria doesn't WANT to be a mess and it's when she slowly tries to better herself that the real struggle comes into play. We learn that she's not the only one struggling with pain and a dark past and present, as it's soon revealed that Oscar is battling a lot himself, leading to the question of who someone really is and whether our vices and issues can turn us into people we don't recognize or if we ever knew those people to begin with.
COLOSSAL is an excellent look at our demons and how we deal with and confront them and the performances by Hathaway and Sudeikis really help show how those demons cna be portrayed with a sense of realism within a film about monsters. Hathway plays Gloria like conflicted human with issues we've all either seen in people aorund us or struggled with ourselves. Sudeikis steals every scene he's in and if RACE wasn't enough proof that the typically comedic actor has serious chops, it's on full display here in Vigalondo's film. Oscar is a fun and giving character but it's when his true colors are shown little by little, that we see that there's something very dark and torubled within the guy and Sudeikis plays Oscar grounded, never feeling like he's trying to make the character larger than life. It's that grounded and realistic approach to the film that makes COLOSSAL such an enjoyable and refreshing experience. Monsters are involved, but there's still a lot of REAL issues we're being presented with and it makes for some damn good storytelling.