Anne Hathaway’s new black comedy, about a woman who discovers she’s responsible for a giant monster terrorising Seoul, likely won’t get as much press as a movie such as Get Out. However, touching on themes of addiction, mental illness, abuse, misogyny and class, Colossal is a worthy companion,
Hathaway plays Gloria, an unemployed alcoholic writer who gets dumped by her unsupportive boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) and forced out of their swish New York apartment. Returning to her childhood home, Gloria rekindles her childhood friendship with bartender Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who offers her a job that she takes despite it fueling her huge robotic alter-ego by perpetuating her binge-drinking, Aware of her troubles, Oscar is protective, making sure a guy she just met — Joel (Austin Stowell) — isn’t going to take advantage of her. Meanwhile Tim meanders in and out of the film via mobile and vidcalls, his attempts at reconciling compromised by his relentless undermining of her. Despite his charming British accent, he’s a dimwit, utterly clueless to Gloria’s depression. Gloria later insinuates that she got fired because of online trolls rendering her expendable when her publication downsized. Could traumatisation from trolling be feeding her depression? (Online harassment has been known to cost victims their jobs.)
The movie takes a diabolical turn as Oscar’s possessiveness turns dangerous and murderous alter-egos manifest to carry out the whims of their masters.
It’s impossible to delve into the film’s themes without revealing more than the trailer, so spoilers after the photo:
Gloria decides to have sex with Joel and in classic meninist “nice-guy” form, Oscar is infuriated by this, wounded that his generosity has not led to reciprocated feelings from her. As Gloria attempts sobriety, Oscar descends into the pits of alcoholism,catalyzing the physical manifestation of his dark side, or mecha. He grows increasingly malevolent, threatening to let his huge robot alter-ego crush Seoul, unless Gloria stays with him.
As the film progresses, it becomes increasingly obvious that his sexual desire is not fueled by love, but the desire to assert power and dominance over her. Oscar not only harbors intense feelings of possessiveness towards Gloria but a deep-set childhood hatred borne from the fact that he had to remain in his hometown to keep up his father’s failing bar, while she became a successful columnist in the global capital Manhattan. Could Oscar be one of the online misogynists who hated on Gloria’s pieces, and cost her her job? Was he anonymously sending hateful tweets to her?
Even when his blackmailing descends into physical abuse, Gloria doesn’t seek police help in arresting Oscar. Sadly, it would likely be rendered a fruitless effort given the fact that, even in real life, without the complication of giant monsters, the authorities don’t take abuse seriously enough. As Oscar terrorizes Seoul and his monstrous personal behaviour worsens, Gloria opts for kicking robot ass with her own colossal counterpart. In the end, Gloria kills Oscar with her monster, a cathartic ending for anyone who’s ever been told to tolerate their abuser; to respect the free speech of those who hate us; or that we must listen to the concerns of the working class that vote against us.
If there is one, one problem with Colossal would be that race isn’t as looked into as misogyny or class. Though Anne Hathaway does a great job conveying her character’s horror at the destruction and lives lost in Seoul, she does come across as a bit of a white saviour upon Oscar’s defeat. Overall, this film is a weird and wonderful twist of monster movies and chick flicks: one we’ll likely discuss for years to come.
Author: Christopher Chiu-Tabet
Editor: Madison Wade