Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens
Written by: Nacho Vigalondo
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 110
Date: 04/07/2017

Colossal (2017)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Odds and Monsters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Feeling for all the world like a Charlie Kaufman creation, this crazy sci-fi movie goes all over the map; it's constantly surprising and amazing, and yet it stays true to an emotional, human struggle.

In Colossal, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) has lost her job and spends too much time drinking; her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) loses patience and breaks up with her. She moves to her vacant childhood home, and while trying to figure out her next move, re-connects with an old schoolmate, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Oscar gives her a job in his bar, and the drinking continues.

Weirdly, at the same time, a monster has begun attacking Seoul, Korea, and the bar patrons watch it on TV. Astonishingly, Gloria notices that her own movements and actions tend to coincide with the monster's; she figures out that if she stands in a certain place at a certain time, she becomes the monster, and controls it.

Unfortunately, Oscar discovers that he, too, has the "gift," and can become a giant robot. And he uses the opportunity to get back at Gloria for a perceived childhood slight.

The talented Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, V/H/S: Viral) brings his unique vision to a story about psychological and literal monsters. As Colossal unfolds, the vivid characters struggle with their day-to-day lives, then stumble upon the mind-blowing secret of the monster, and then learn the rules.

It's only then that Vigalondo unveils the pain at the center of the movie, wounds created in childhood that adulthoods may have been built upon. It's a fully satisfying arc, centered around a truly imaginative setting: Gloria's empty house and Oscar's half-finished bar. Emotions are allowed to run dark, and the performances, especially by Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, and Tim Blake Nelson are stronger as a result.

Last year's Swiss Army Man, as well as Kaufman inventions like Being John Malkovich, ventured into this fresh, bracing territory, and now Colossal joins them.

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