NEON (2017)

 

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

 

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Ever got so drunk you smashed up a city on the other side of the world?

 

Well, I haven’t, but Anne Hathaway’s Gloria has. So has Jason Sudekis’ Oscar in fact. Must have been one hell of a party huh? Unfortunately, it isn’t a one off case. See, every night, after they get drunk and stumble into the same kids play park, their antics are recreated by a giant kaiju and robot in Seoul, causing death and destruction with every flick of a digit.

 

Sounds weird doesn’t it? Well it is, but weirdly entertaining too.

Gloria drinks far too much, far too often and her boyfriend Tim (Stevens) has had enough of her antics. He’s packed her suitcases for her and kicks her out of their New York home. Eventually, Gloria heads to her childhood town to rebuild her life but quickly runs into Oscar, a childhood friend, who runs a local bar and who offers her a job as a waitress. Recovering alcoholic working in a bar isn’t a good match. After spending her first night boozing with Oscar and his pals Garth (Nelson) and Joel (Stowell) Gloria spends the night on the park bench opposite her home. That same night, Seoul is attacked by a giant lizard.

 

Gloria eventually pieces together the strange phenomenon that’s occurring and confides in the guys at the bar. Having initially been warm and giving to Gloria, Oscar soon realises he too can materialise in Seoul as a giant robot – however, with Gloria attempting to make peace with the Koreans, Oscar enjoys the power he wields over them and in turn, over Gloria.

 

Colossal is a strange movie, make no doubt of that before you watch it. It may be too strange for some but as an original story, it’s compelling and entirely watchable. Anne Hathaway, sporting some banging bangs, delivers a strong performance as the luckless yet affable Gloria and Sudeikis performs a career-about turn, going from pleaser to sleazer remarkably well.

 

With clear messages around alcohol abuse and rage issues, the movie makes no attempt to hide the subtext beneath the black comedy-monster picture, and neither should it. The message is strong, potent and deserves to be shouted loudly, just bizarre logic to include offing thousands of Koreans along the way.

 

It begins as a homecoming rebirth story of sorts, with two old school friend reuniting and hanging out against the backdrop of light comedy and sweet moments. By the movie’s third act, the tone shifts drastically into darker territory including abuse (physical and booze), emotional blackmail and hate before the grand finale – and Sudeikis is scarily convincing as an abusive drunk. The movie deals with the human effects rather than the giant monsters rampaging through Seoul, and I’m glad that Gloria figures out quickly what is happening, and the movie then deals with the consequences and the resolutions. It’s also a movie very much set in the modern times with the use of live feeds and social media keeping everyone updated as the events unfold.

 

It may be too strange for the mainstream and maybe not strange enough for the arthouse family, but Colossal is certainly unique. A tale of booze, abuse and giant reptiles that somehow works, its hats off to Nacho Vigalondo for creating an original story and getting weird with it.

 

She’s the monster, he’s the robot and I’m the happy viewer.

July 27th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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