Warning: spoiler alert! This movie is totally worst-explained.
Things I wish I could have written? Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Thornton Wilder’s The Ides of March. The movie Collossal. Etc., etc. And by-the-buy, I watched Colossal last night via some stupid streaming service and I was pleasantly surprised. On that note, streaming itself isn’t stupid but the greedy nature of how all these streaming services work is stupid. Indeed. Consume to survive: everything is stupid. But I digress.
Although Collossal has a somewhat slow and peculiar start, the first thing I said after the opening scene of a young Korean girl initialising the audience to the Collossal monster, is this: this is movie about woman scorned! Oh how wrong/right I would eventually be. Once the odd, platonic relationship of the two main characters gets going, I even briskly forgot about all my worst-predictions. In fact, this movie is as pleasantly different as The Shape of Water. And to think both these great movies are made by Spaniards. Cool.
In short, Gloria is a young drunk down on her luck living in NYC. After her boyfriend throws her out, she decides to return to her childhood home where she immediately encounters Oscar, supposedly a childhood friend. One of the best parts of writing in this movie is how these two characters are in a relationship but that relationship has nothing to do with romance. What a relief that is, I thought to myself. A film about a man and a woman and it has nothing to do with how/if/when they get it on. Fresh worthwhile movie story telling trick, indeed.
Enter the monster(s) as a literal blast from the past starts to wake up these two from a serious drunken stupor. The whole story evolves around a flashback of what these two people were caught up in as school children. Although Gloria seems to have overcome the majority of that trauma, once she re-enters that old life as a drunk, the past appears out of thin air in the form of Collossal, a Godzilla-like monster. Why the fcuk this monster is destroying a city half a world away as these two #Americant dyfunctionals can’t get their $hit together, is the brief and tantalising mystery the story rides on. It eventually becomes obvious that the monster is some kind a manifestation of Gloria. And just when you figure that out–or are actually shown that she is the monster–it turns out Oscar has one, too. And that’s the gist of what’s really going on between these two. Oscar simply can’t stand being one-upped by Gloria.
The revealing flashback of the movie comes fairly late. Unlike a lot of flashbacks, though, this one doesn’t just reveal the twist of the movie. While walking home from elementary school Gloria and Oscar are carrying school projects. They had to build a model of a city they would like to visit in life. Gloria picked the city of Seoul, South Korea. I didn’t pick up on the city Oscar built–but it’s probably the hometown he’s still stuck in. During their walk home it’s obvious that Gloria won the contest from her class of best built model. When a storm suddenly emerges a gust of win whips Gloria’s Seoul away (pun intended). Oscar jumps a fence to fetch it for her. Thinking that she doesn’t see what’s he doing, Gloria watches Oscar destroy her prized model Seoul replication (more pun?) by stomping on it–like a monster. But then something really weird happens. This is where the twist takes another twist. They are struck by lightening in the storm. Through out the movie Gloria is constantly itching a part of the top of her head where she was struck.
Although it’s not very clear in the writing, worst-writer’s guess is the lightening strike probably ingrained this event into their psyche. Because of it, Oscar grew up hating himself (which she actually claims of him when they have a final confrontation) for the cruelty that has been part of him since that stormy day. Gloria is just a hurt child drowning her sorrows in drink. Gloria then realises to end their conflict all she has to do is continue going forward in life–like she did by leaving this small town and going to NYC. She also realises that she has to stop being a drunk–which brought her back to this mess in the first place. Oh. And to finally deal with Oscar, she also has to get rid of his monster. In order to do that, she comes-of-age, stops drinking and gets on a plane and travels to Seoul. Although Oscar has threatened her that this time she won’t leave him and his cruelty, when she does leave he continues to ravage (her) Seoul. In the actual city of Seoul, South Korea, Gloria finally confront Oscar by proving that at least she can leave that krappy town, stop drinking, move on. She one-ups Oscar one last time. End.
All in all, a great film. It’s a smart film, too. What a relief a movie like this is in these days of blockbuster boredom and moronic comic book characters galore. Although at times it has some odd, indecisive scenes, especially in the beginning and while the relationships are being developed among Oscars friends in her hometown, Hathaway and her character are brilliant. There is a bit of heavy-handed misogyny in the form of serious boy on girl ass-whipping during the last fight scene between the two, but it fit their relationship and it didn’t go over-board–which I’m sure would have been the case if Harvey Weinstein had produced this film. On the other hand, I’m not sure this movie could be part of the #metoo movement. Ok. Maybe that’s not applicable at all. Nomatter. In the end this is a movie about a woman, the consequence of her actions and the sometimes brutal nature of human behaviour–especially male behaviour. The way she deals with it all sometimes took my breath away. At the least I’m not a Hathaway skeptic like I used to be. She can act her way around my screen any day–as long as she does a smart movie like this. Well done!