Anne Hathaway’s new movie, “Colossal,” a clever mash-up of indie romantic comedies and Japanese monster movies, presents an ideal showcase for the actress’s gifts.
“Colossal” opens with a scene inspired by its Godzilla/Mothra roots, when a girl in Seoul clutches her doll to her chest while an enormous monster terrorizes her home town. Cut to 25 years later, when Gloria (Hathaway) stumbles into her boyfriend’s apartment after a raging all-nighter. Clearly it’s happened before, and clearly Tim (Dan Stevens) has had it; he orders her to pack her things, just moments before her fellow revelers pile into the front door to keep the party going.
Homeless and virtually jobless (nominally Gloria is a blogger), she decamps to the New Jersey town she grew up in, setting up a makeshift campsite inside her family’s deserted house. She soon crosses paths with an old school friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who has taken over his father’s bar and who becomes an instant soul mate. Soon, the two are tossing back beers after hours, and Oscar is taking a protective interest in Gloria’s welfare, offering her castoff furniture and a job as a waitress.
Just how Gloria’s story intersects with the Korean preamble is a mystery best left unplumbed here, but the movie’s writer-director, Nacho Vigalondo, does a graceful job of intertwining the two events with the perfect balance of credible realism and outright fantasy, along with nods to 9/11 and the voyeuristic age of the internet meme. Suffice it to say that the monster returns, with deep ramifications for Gloria, whose bleary search for selfhood and vocation has the same awkward, world-smashing heedlessness.
That pivot, as it happens, centers on Oscar, a character who dovetails so completely with Sudeikis’s natural affability that when he undergoes a change, it’s both virtually imperceptible and shocking. It’s at this point, too, that Gloria comes into her own most fully, in terms of her own empowerment and survival.
“Colossal” ends with an epic showdown between people and their inner demons, in a set piece that’s nothing less than the fight for each one’s soul. Or is it Seoul? In this observant, entertaining, imaginative movie, just about everything has more than one meaning.
Rated R for language. 1:50. AMC Classic.