If you took the hipster mumblecore of Noah Baumbach strapped it into a sports car and drove it at a 100 miles-per-hour into Godzilla, then the resultant debris would look a bit like Colossal. I mean it wouldn’t, Godzilla is massive so he probably wouldn’t even notice, but you can at least pretend to play along.
Colossal is a combination of two very different stories. On the one hand, we have Gloria. Struggling to find a job she’s bouncing through life drunk when her boyfriend decides he’s had enough and kicks her out. Forced to return to her hometown she meets up with a childhood friend and gets a job at a bar. The perfect working environment for the budding alcoholic in your life. Meanwhile, world news goes into meltdown when a big old Kaiju shows up in Seoul and wrecks havoc. Somehow, (and this is the mental bit) those two events are linked, but we shan’t spoil how.
This film shouldn’t work. It should be a massive mess and, to be honest, towards the end it is. The mental gymnastics required to hit its conclusion are a step too far, and it all falls apart, but before that, it’s really good. And yes, read that in a shocked voice.
A big part of that is down to the performances of Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. Gloria could, and should, be infuriating. Like all alcoholics, she is relentlessly self-destructive, and she careens through life falling asleep in all manner of uncomfortable positions. Hathaway is the person you want playing that role, though. Rather than hating her you end up sympathising with her. There’s the constant feeling that she’s a good person who just needs a bit of help.
And at first, you think that bit of help will come from Sudeikis’s Oscar. However, it’s not a spoiler, to say it won’t. Sudeikis deserves a lot of credit for taking on a part which essentially forces him to be an absolute wankstain of a human being. The unravelling of his true nature is perfectly paced and when it’s all said and done you want to smack the fucker. We can only cross our fingers and hope that this is where Sudeikis is going now rather than back to mediocre comedies.
Throw in Dan Stevens being typically gorgeous, and you’ve got a lovely cast for director Nacho Vigalonda to play with. He also wrote the script, and while that falls apart, this feels like a coming out moment for the man whose previous biggest credit is a segment in V/H/S: Viral. The fact this film works as well as it does for as long as it does is to his credit and while it’s not perfect, it does more than enough to leave you wanting more from the mind that came up with this mental idea.
If I’m honest, I have probably let Colossal get away with things that I would have been harsher on with other films. That’s because it’s such an original and creative idea that I want it to be a success. However, it will divide audiences. There are those that will be looking for Baumbach, and those who are looking for Godzilla and both sides might leave dissatisfied. If you go in with an open mind, however, you might just find one of this year’s gems.
Verdict: Hall of Fame