COLOSSAL

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3.5 stars
Depending on your view point regarding domestic abuse and its role in comedy, this is either a gutsy approach to discussing a serious social issue, or a colossal misfire (pun intended).
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An irregular mix of creature-feature, romantic comedy and domestic violence drama as funnelled through the mind of Charlie Kaufmann on a day off, Colossal is not your everyday film. But if it sounds like your cup of cinematic chai, read on.

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) has a drinking problem, a memory problem and her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) has had enough. He throws her out, she retires to the empty family home and reconnects with childhood pal Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Homeless and penniless, he gives her a job – he runs his father’s bar – and, ironically, she starts to get her life back on track. That’s until [spoiler alert] they discover a bizarre connection between their local park and downtown Seoul. If Gloria steps into the playground, a Godzilla-styled version of her appears in the Korean capital at the same time. What she does at home, the creature does in Seoul, which becomes a significant problem when she’s drunk. Cue mayhem and chaos, collapsing buildings and screaming people.

So far so thoroughly, yet enjoyably, weird. And it would remain that if not for writer / director Nacho Vigalondo’s determination to open up a discussion around their relationship which quickly becomes abusive. At first, Tim looked like the bad guy for abandoning Gloria. Yet nice-guy Oscar, nurturing serious self-esteem issues, soon outstrips him in ways that turn uncomfortably violent: it’s funny in Seoul where he becomes a reptile fighting robot, not so funny in the US where he becomes a douchebag.

That’s not to say that domestic violence should be the sole domain of drama, our most demanding needs are best dealt with through humour. And that’s not to say that Vigalondo diminishes anyone’s plight through his film. Quite the opposite. But it’s such an odd mismatch that neither the film’s comedic heart nor its social agenda are well served by head-scratching devices that ultimately scupper the film’s impact (such as Gloria’s memory failure that is virtually forgotten about as soon as it’s introduced).

As frustrating as it is rewarding, there’s still a lot to like about Colossal. Hathway and Sudeikis have a good chemistry and it’s pleasing to see Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens in a gutsy role. The ultimate reward lies in the chutzpah of Vigalondo to make a film as oddly discordant at this which, despite that discord, oddly works. Amid the crazed construct comes a simple enough message, that odious behaviour is not to be celebrated nor forgiven.

// COLIN FRASER

Previewed at Sony Pictures Theatrette, Sydney, on 31 March 2017.
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STARRING
Anne Hathaway
Jason Sudeikis
Austin Stowell
Dan Stevens

DIRECTOR
Nacho Vigalondo

SCREENWRITER
Nacho Vigalondo

COUNTRY
USA

CLASSIFICATION
M

RUNTIME
110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN
RELEASE DATE
April 13, 2017
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Colossal (2016) on IMDb
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Stacks Image 21556