Saturday, May 20, 2017


Gloria is going through a rough patch in her career and life as she drinks too much, parties too hard, and lives off of her disapproving boyfriend's resources while she does it. He's finally had enough of it all and kicks her out, forcing her to return to her parents' deserted house in her home town in shame. While gathering supplies to make the house a little more comfortable, she runs into her childhood friend Oscar, who owns a bar. They quickly fall into the habit of hanging out at the bar and drinking until morning. More often than not, Gloria wakes up with no recollection of the night before and only gets clues from Oscar. Meanwhile, a giant monster is terrorizing South Korea, but only for a short time at one particular time of day. Gloria figures out that the monster follows her own movements when she's in a local playground at exactly 8:05am. Of course she's horrified and has to decide what to do about it when Oscar's true colors are gradually revealed.

I expected Colossal to be a fun giant monster film that had a quirky, independent feel and I was partly right. However, it proved to me much more emotional and hard-hitting. Gloria is a mess of person who slinks off to her childhood home to figure out what to do next. She falls into a habit of ignoring her problems and hanging out with other toxic people who support her alcoholism. The giant monster debacle is her first wake up call to do something more productive than working in a bar or getting blackout drunk. It's symbolic of the damage she inflicts on people around her with her thoughtless actions and excessive drinking. It also forces to her to reflect upon how many people were hurt by her thoughtless actions and make a real decision about what do moving forward instead of continuing the same avoidance behaviors. She eventually writes out an apology in Korean and vows to leave the city alone. Oscar during this time seems supportive, friendly, and willing to help her out. He gives her a job at the bar, helps furnish her house, and lends an ear when she needs one. Unfortunately, this behavior isn't reflective of his true feelings.

Oscar turns out to be one of the most odious, enraging characters I've ever hated. The first indication of this is during the first night she spends hanging out with his friends. She moves to kiss Joel, the most attractive of them, and Oscar suddenly yells at her our of nowhere as if she's ruining something. Gloria most likely doesn't even remember the interaction (plus who knows how many similar ones) and goes on as normal. When Gloria reveals her odd ability to him and his friends, he discovers he has his own giant robot avatar that appears in the same place. He doesn't share Gloria's feelings about the unexpected power and starts to drunkenly terrorize the city on his own. He apologizes, but the cyle of abuse continues. When she refuses to drink, he threatens to terrorize Korea if she won't comply with his demands. This starts a series of uncomfortable and enraging displays of his attempts control over her (because she doesn't want Korea smashed) interspersed with increasing insincere apologies. It all culminates when she lets him know she will return home with her boyfriend. He goes to smash up Korea in the playground. When she tries to physically stop him, he overpowers and beats her in a disgusting display of abuse.

Up until that point, I had hoped that Oscar was just a damaged person making mistakes much like Gloria, but he proved that his ultimate goal is control her and continue his sick cycle of abuse out of self loathing and failure. That beating also showed that this film goes a lot deeper than I expected. Much of the earlier events were more comedic and light, downplaying a lot of his earlier abusive actions. This method makes us feel like Gloria, finally realizing that previous actions weren't mistakes or misunderstandings. This scene felt like the genre of the film changed. It was looking like she had to choose between these two men who ultimately want to control her as is typical in romantic comedies, but she chooses a much more realistic third option. The ending was incredibly satisfying and a sound deconstruction of the romantic comedy formula that continues to insist that women need men to feel complete and solve their problems. The last scene shows that Gloria is still a flawed person who has to work through her issues.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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