This article contains major Colossal spoilers.
It sits there in front of her, like a taunting monster, every bit as immense and titanic as any kaiju running rampant in downtown Seoul. It’s a glass of beer, alcohol, and temptation itself staring Anne Hathaway’s Gloria in the face like the siren song that murdered so many Grecian sailors in another tale of potent allegory.
So does Gloria reach for the drink? Perhaps she could even go on another bender that might end with her sizeable giant monster wreaking greater havoc in her sleepy hometown. (Crushing Oscar’s bar to smithereens, devastating the Western and ‘American Bar’ aesthetics alike would certainly be satisfying.)
Of course the answer is intentionally ambiguous, and for our part we can only speculate. Personally, I think the point is that even though she is strong enough to escape an abusive and deceptively insidious relationship with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis)—which at least at first began as cheerful enabling before it turned into physical violence—personal demons never go away. Just because Gloria is strong enough to realize that she needed neither the condescending contempt of Dan Stevens’ Tim or the passive aggressive evil of Oscar does not mean that the colossal monster within is gone.
Sure, the film’s magical realism dictates that Oscar is the reason she has the ability to channel a Godzilla-esque monster on opposite sides of the globe, but the creature in both its moments of glory and malevolence are all Gloria. Just as someone with a drinking problem might tell you they are still an alcoholic, even if they haven’t had a drop in 12 years, the monster at the bottom of the glass (and thus potentially above the rooftops of Seoul) persists.
Nacho Vigalondo also noted this in his interpretation when Den of Geek sat down with him at the Colossal press junket in New York. He even goes so far as to note that it would be too cute by half if Gloria’s internal beasties were defeated, albeit it was truly nice to see an external one like Oscar jettisoned into oblivion.
“To me it would be truly unfair if at the end that we make sure that she’s not going to drink again, but I understand your point-of-view,” the Spanish filmmaker told me when I gave my theory that she at least in this moment will not reach for the glass. Momentary victories, fleeting though they may be, can be savored.
“I think it would be too cynical if she drinks again, and it would be too naïve if she prefers not to drink. The thing is when you’re dealing with addictions, I want to make something that people suffering an addiction can relate to and can understand. Sometimes in a movie when people stop drinking or stop taking drugs, or stop having a bad habit just because, that sounds really, really [neat]. So I have to leave the door open, because it’s not that easy.”
Vigalondo goes on to say it is not impossible to make a film about overcoming addiction, including alcoholism (though he is reticent to use such a serious label for his protagonist in a dancing kaiju movie). Still, he is not convinced that the comedic subject and pursuits of Colossal are the right avenue to accomplish such a narrative.
We also talked briefly about how happy Jason Sudeikis was to sink his teeth into Oscar, a vile misogynist and petty man behind a deceptively friendly smile. Indeed, the biggest surprise for many audiences might be how unexpected the turn taken by Oscar can be. Vigalondo admits that he and Sudeikis were also keen on using audience familiarity with the SNL alum to their knotty advantage.
“We both really were aware of how ‘Jason Sudeikis’ was going to work in this film,” Vigalondo says about his pleasant collaboration with the actor. “It’s just not about his skills and charisma. It’s about his skills as a comedian, and this character has a comedian side. It had to be there; it’s all about how his name resonates.
“And you can say that in this movie, the expectations of the audience are a part of the show somehow. And yeah, Jason Sudeikis was really helpful when it came to raise the stakes of the show. He was really, really open to redefining his presence in movies with this role. And I think there was… I can’t feel more proud every time someone is talking about Jason Sudeikis’ performance here. That’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in my professional life.”
It certainly made for a shock. One you can enjoy all over again since Colossal is now playing in theaters.