(Obvious note regarding a movie that came out 14 months ago: Spoilers.)
This has been in the back of my head for several weeks. When I first saw the trailer for Colossal I assumed it was comedy take on kaiju movies. As we watched the film, I thought the monster was a metaphor for Gloria’s alcoholism and how it ruined everything in her life. As I kept watching I decided the monster was her internal way of handling the controlling jerks she had in her life, and she didn’t realize it until the very end. At the of the movie I actually had a negative reaction. She may have learned what her actual problem was, but she didn’t solve it. She didn’t grow. By killing Oscar (and I can’t imagine him surviving that ending) she didn’t become a better person. I didn’t like the movie.
But Stephanie and I kept talking about it. We kept talking about Gloria and Oscar and Tim and why she did things. I am still not sure the sex scene was necessary for Gloria but maybe I’ll figure it out eventually and at least it was a well done sex scene in that it was a scene cut and the why mattered as the how wasn’t shown at all. It’s not like I need a reminder that Anne Hathaway is a beautiful woman.
It took a week of talking before it dropped from our conversation, what with America coming to an end and all, but I kept thinking about it. The movie presented a problem, and it took a long time (for me) to reveal it. Yes, I thought Oscar was generous, then creepy, then an asshole, and Tim being an asshole was a surprise. No knights in this picture. Joel, the sweet one who thinks he has to act like an asshole gets the “prize” of Gloria (from Oscar’s point of view, Gloria is a thing to control and having sex with her is his “prize”) and he always does something assholish and backs off. He’s too nice for Oscar and Garth, the cocaine-sniffing asshole friend of Oscars.
All right, enough with the assholes. Maybe I’ve reading too much about Dan Savage.
The point of the ending, I think, wasn’t to “heal” Gloria but to show she had enough strength to do something good for absolute strangers. Oscar is the monster that does not back down. He can be scared into being a nice guy but only for a little while and he lashes out, anger and demanding control being his only real tools for dealing with life.
Gloria can’t heal. Not in the space of a single movie’s narrative. She can get strong enough to say “enough” and when that isn’t enough she has to push herself out of the control she had managed to gain during the movie when she stopped drinking.
And the news ever since we watched has been full of men acting shocked and appalled when their abusive behavior from twenty, thirty, forty years ago gets highly publicized. The women who have come forward to accuse Weinstein, Louis, Spacey, Moore, et. al. have probably not really healed after all this time either. The depth of the wounds they suffered are so deep that they may never even be aware of them all. Gloria, being aware but still wounded, is a symbol of #YesAllWomen.
As a white man with a middle-class upbringing, I am not aware of all the blinders I have. I think in some way watching Colossal has helped me see the problems in the real world a little better.
So I’m calling Colossal my “sleeper hit” of the year. A movie that may have been low on my priority list, but I’m glad I watched it.
First, anyone thinking of taking a child to see this “comic book” movie should take the R rating seriously. I think I heard the MPAA ratings board has a threshold of the number of times a script can have “fuck” or “shit” and stay in PG land. Logan jumps that shark in the first five minutes. It felt like a lot of lazy writing.
I found the first hour or so very difficult and slow. It wasn’t the swearing and the violence, although I hit action fatigue early on. It was the Hero’s Journey Rejection of the Challenge phase took for frikken ever. I think it spent too long justifying why this movie doesn’t follow from the previous ones. (Disclaimer: Uncle Josh watched X-Men, maybe X-Men 2, maybe 3. I stopped watching them when Scott Summers was killed off screen for no reason other than they didn’t know what do do with his character.) The movie establishes the future setting (nice to see cell phones won’t change over the next 15 years and there’s no Southern Border Wall) and the reasons for treating Charles Xavier in such a shitty way in the beginning of them. It’s all reasonable. Comic book readers are used to that sort of convenient back-fill for the readers who may not have read that book.
There were only a couple of scenes where I felt the actors enjoying their roles in the few moments of levity offered. They may have liked the whole process, but it was too much the old run-down dogs tired of life.
However, when the movie picks up and the characters connect, it gets powerful. The final scenes wrench at the heart.
It’s a fitting end for Hugh Jackman’s run with the character.