by Kenji Fujishima Film Horizon Line

Colossal | Nacho Vigalondo

April 7, 2017

Give Nacho Vigalondo’s latest points for being consistently unpredictable: it’s a monster movie, in a sense, but the monsters turn out to be analogous for its two main characters, Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an alcoholic New Yorker who retreats to her hometown after her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) throws her out, and Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a bartender in Gloria’s hometown with whom she reconnects. As was the case with Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial, the genre elements are merely conduits for more character-based concerns, and there’s a breathtaking intimacy and naturalism to some of the early scenes, with the writer/director allowing his characters plenty of room to breathe and simply exist.

Alas, Colossal never quite fulfills the promise of its setup; instead, Vigalondo seems to lose the thread of his characters, exuding more of an interest in manipulating them to conform to simplistic good-versus-evil binaries. And ultimately, there’s something rather distasteful about a film that essentially shows the relatively trivial conflicts between two white American characters being played out on a destructive grand scale in a faraway Asian city (Seoul in this case). Colossal manages to embody both American imperialism and white privilege at the same time—no mean feat.

Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2016 | Dispatch 2.