As metaphors go, Godzilla has seen his fair share of interpretations. While most often Godzilla is a stand in for nuclear age mismanagement, the big guy has also been used to further environmental messages, anti-war messages and in his latest and most unique incarnation, in the comic-drama “Colossal,” Godzilla stands in for the emotional trauma people can inflict on others. As unique as “Colossal” is in the interpretation of the legendary movie monster it does adhere with the idea that the humans are nearly as monstrous as the monster we created.
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a mess. She has no direction, no job and few prospects. Oh, and Gloria has a serious problem with alcohol. Gloria’s issues finally come to head when her live-in boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicks her to the curb. With nowhere to go, Gloria returns to her childhood home, recently abandoned by her parents, and squats on mom and dad’s dime, eventually finding a job at a bar owned by her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis).
I say that Oscar is Gloria’s friend but as the story of “Colossal” plays out the dynamic between Oscar and Gloria will evolve in some very unexpected ways. Unexpected is a hallmark of “Colossal” which comes to find that Gloria’s many, many issues have manifested through some sort of portal that links her thoughts and actions to a Godzilla like creature that wreaks havoc in South Korea each time Gloria goes a little too far in her self-centered partying.
This is no dream sequence in “Colossal.” The story here, crafted by veteran Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, manifests Godzilla as a real monster that does attack South Korea and mimics the actions of Gloria who decides to turn her life around so that she can avoid killing thousands of people each time she gets drunk and rowdy. Oscar has his own connection to this unique manifestation but that would be far too spoiler heavy to reveal here.
“Collossal” is not at all the movie it appears to be in advertisements and trailers. The marketing for “Colossal” plays up the comic aspects of this story despite the comedy being almost incidental to the psycho-drama that the film becomes as it goes along. There is a darkness and complexity to “Colossal” that producers have apparently been attempting to hide from audiences on the assumption that people aren’t interested in a unique premise, they just want to think they are going to laugh.
As insulting as the marketing of “Colossal” unquestionably is, the film itself is rare and authentic, a work of a wonderfully inventive filmmaker. I am, in all honesty, not familiar with the work of Nacho Vigalondo. That said, “Colossal” is a fantastic introduction to a filmmaker with a unique vision and approach to storytelling. This is just the kind of original and exciting filmmaking that I hope we can encourage more of in the future.