Colossal, a strange hybrid of domestic drama, romantic comedy and monster movie, has turned out to be one of spring’s most talked-about indies. Much of the talk has centered on figuring out its success with its intentions. Now is a good time to revisit that discussion, since Colossal is close to playing out its theatrical run but will doubtlessly turn up soon on video-on-demand services and as a DVD. If you can’t catch it first-run, definitely see it in the secondary market.
The film from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, who helmed one of the segments from V/H/S Viral horror film features Anne Hathaway as a down on her luck character forced to return to her anonymous American hometown with all of her millennial angst in tow after a devastating break-up and losing her job. She wallows in self-pity, almost drinking herself into oblivion, until she realizes she’s part of a much bigger problem than she ever could have imagined: She seems somehow able to trigger monster attacks in Korea.
Colossal at first lays out a rather typical set-up for a formulaic rom-com. But fortunately Vigalondo wants nothing whatsoever to do with that tired genre. In casting Hathaway, he blazes a new surreal trail. She puts her skills to good use in Colossal, where on the other side of the world from her character – in Seoul, South Korea – the populaces beset by a rampaging creature, taller than a skyscraper, that appears out of nowhere and lays waste to everything in its wake. She seems able to manipulate it by the physical steps she takes. Imagine if Godzilla became the gigantic avatar of a broken-hearted binge-drinker, who sets it loose just by dancing alone in the park.
It is not often that female characters take center stage in such stories, especially one so rooted in emotional distress. Vigalondo borrows liberally from “Parallel Monsters,” his V/H/S Viral installment, which tracked a character with divergent lives on either side of an inter-dimensional portal, but adds a degree of difficulty, replacing demonic horror with daft humor. Hathaway takes on the colossal challenge and proves to be a real winner. (In theaters) (R) Grade: B