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Movie review: ‘Colossal’ pairs rage, humor for psychological thriller

April 27, 2017 GMT

We all have moments in life in which we feel like a monster who could destroy everything in sight.

Moments when our emotions are heightened, and that moment is all about our bruised feelings, and we are capable of acting out and causing damage to ourselves, as well as others.

Sometimes that acting out can be as simple as hurting someone by saying something you can’t take back. In the new movie “Colossal,” it can be as complex as Godzilla attacking a major city.

That high concept resonates in this fantasy-meets-black comedy gem, an art-house curiosity about personal failings, redemption and giant monsters that seems destined for cult status.

Anne Hathaway is the star and a producer of this wonderfully quirky picture by Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, who has shown some horror-film skills in the past and has now found a way to marry them to the human condition.

Playing Gloria, a young woman who makes bad decisions and can’t stay employed, thanks largely to her abuses (alcohol is her drug of choice), Hathaway reminds of her character in “Rachel Getting Married” that gained her an Oscar nomination, and so does her effort.

Gloria is a complete mess as her New York boyfriend (Dan Stevens) kicks her out of their apartment, and she must return to her small hometown, living in her parents’ empty house.

She’s broke, alone and a sad-sack case of misery and humorous setbacks. Her load is lightened somewhat when she runs into an old classmate (Jason Sudeikis) who offers her a helping hand, as well as a job.

Gloria could use a friend, so that’s good. But she’ll be working in his bar — not good.

Oscar (Sudeikis) runs the place and stays after-hours with his drinking buddies, played by Austin Stowell (“Bridge of Spies”) and Tulsa’s Tim Blake Nelson, who is a funny, frustrated mess of a lush himself.

This set-up may sound like a “you can’t go home again” traditional dysfunction drama ... but then a skyscraper-sized creature attacks Seoul, South Korea.

Then Gloria comes to realize that she is controlling the actions of this Godzilla-like monster from half-a-world away.

This is wild and weird stuff, and yet the filmmaker and his cast are all-in on the concept for this psychological fantasy, from Nelson’s exceptional turn as a pitiful man of many foibles to the pitch-black comedy that perfectly fits these lonely people’s lives.

There are laughs even when the theme is rage and personal disappointment, and there is respect for the fact that no one here is asking for sympathy.

Even when the monster is crushing downtown buildings and Seoul residents perish in the destruction caused by Gloria’s actions, there is a humor that keeps you smiling.

Even when the characters journey to some pretty dark places, all while performing a kind of absurdist deconstruction of Godzilla-type movies.

That’s impressive, and so is “Colossal” in its imaginative way.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Gloria finds monsters come in all shapes and sizes, which she finds while tripping all over herself to some cathartic truth that feels well-earned.

We’ve all known people like Gloria, and we’ve rooted for them to defeat the monster inside them, which doesn’t always happen in real life.

Now we know how “Colossal” taking your life back can feel.