Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal is a potent study of the destructive power of alcoholism and self hatred masquerading as a romantic comedy, an utterly unique story which is fortunately just as strong at delivering genuine characters and emotions as it is at creating a fantastical world for its characters to inhabit. Centered around the tumultuous life of Gloria, a young woman whose become a full blown alcoholic after losing her job, Colossal introduces us to a character right of the gate who is headed nowhere. She drinks and parties constantly, creating massive strain which her boyfriend can longer take, leading her to being thrown out of his apartment until she can find some semblance of help for herself. Moving back to her home town, Gloria rekindles her childhood friendship with Oscar, who is now running the family bar. After a night of heavy drinking, Gloria wakes up to discover that catastrophic events are happening in Seoul, Korea where a gigantic monster rampages the city. At first merely horrified for the loss of life, Gloria soon discovers that this monster's mysterious emergence is directly linked to her and her actions. Featuring a creative supernatural set storyline which finds our main protagonist, Gloria, controlling a Godzilla-size monster halfway around the world, Colossal is an outlandish comedy that skillfully and almost deceptively slowly reveals itself as a soulful exploration of self-worth. Gloria is a character who simply can't get her life together, stuck in a spiral of alcohol-fueled despair. Her newfound relationship with Oscar is touching at first, with the film playing up to the tropes of the romantic comedy genre, presenting Oscar as a lonely, nice guy- a man whose never been able to make something more of himself, who begins to affection for the one who got away. Setting up the viewer in a sense, the filmmakers eventually subvert the viewers expectations in a wonderfully twisted way, as Oscar himself becomes mean-spirited and hostile towards Gloria after he discovers she slept with one of his younger, more attractive friends. While it's quite obvious that the monster itsself is a symbolic representation of Gloria's downward spiral and alcoholism, It's through this transition of Oscar's character that Colossal really hits its stride, exhibiting in Oscar a character who has reached a high level of self hatred and destruction, a man whose been consumed by his inner demons, with the perpetual heavy consumption of alcohol being his only form of therapy. Oscar, and his subversive and unexpected plight in the film, is the reflection of Gloria and what she could eventually become, a character whose own self hatred and alcoholism could lead her to repel everyone who cares about her, or anyone who doesn't do exactly what she wants. In this sense, Colossal isn't just about the self destructive nature of alcoholism and self hatred, but also the importance of personal responsibility and self worth. The film understands that it's Gloria and Gloria alone who can set her life back on track, with the film skillfully touching on the need for personal responsibility, exhibiting how in the end, it's up to the individual to change, to have the desire to make oneself better, regardless of how much others hope and push them to get their lives together. Tonally light throughout, regardless of the film's darker treatment of Oscar's character as the film progresses, Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal is a highly creative and enjoyable film about the self destructive nature of self hate, recognizing that alcoholism tends to be more the symptom than the cause of such tumultuous inner struggle felt by many.
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