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Colossal: Those big little things

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- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2016: Nacho Vigalondo presents his most polished and accessible work to date, with a hugely entertaining multi-layered tale offering plenty of laughs, starring Anne Hathaway

Review
Anne Hathaway in Colossal

Believing the unbelievable: this is the miracle of cinema, whether fantasy or realist, and this is what Cantabrian director Nacho Vigalondo offers us in his fourth film. Colossal [+see also:
film focus
interview: Nacho Vigalondo
film profile
]
coaxes us to believe in a story which, on the surface, looks like the most far-fetched tale to hit the big screen in quite a while. Constantly walking a line between US-style romantic comedy and Japanese creature feature, the film’s narrative grafts together these two very different styles with masterful results. After premiering in the Toronto International Film Festival, this Spanish-Canadian co-production touched down in the official selection of the 64th San Sebastián International Film Festival, screening out of competition, where the bold director of Timecrimes [+see also:
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trailer
film focus
interview: Alejandro Miranda
interview: Nacho Vigalondo
film profile
]
, Extraterrestrial [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Nacho Vigalondo
film profile
]
and Open Windows [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Nacho Vigalondo
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]
introduced his latest work with his trademark verbosity.

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Colossal, although filmed in English in Vancouver, is pure Vigalondo: all of his usual motifs, obsessions and fears are here. We even find the odd joke that is quintessentially Spanish — and anti-monarchist — sprinkled mischievously through the dialogue of an inventive screenplay written by the director himself. Anne Hathaway was so taken by the plot that she not only accepted the leading part, but also took on the role of executive producer, helping to accelerate the financing of the production. Colossal has in fact already lined up a distributor in the United States, ensuring access to a more mainstream audience than Vigalondo’searlier films have been able to reach.

This desire to bring his work to a wider public appears to have persuaded the director to make his most straightforward film to date, with fewer twists and turns and less of his usual space-time chicanery. True, the connection between the two settings for the action of the film follows the “two-sided mirror” formula of his earlier films, and time is a crucial element in the resolution of the central conflict of the plot. However, the latent message of his story is this time far more clear-cut and relatable.

Running through Colossal, which on the face of it has all the appearance of an American homecoming film, is a blistering critique of sexism, toxic relationships and the fear of returning to the places where we grew up and that we were once so desperate to leave. The film also takes aim at the now widespread trend, enabled by the internet, for hurting others from the safety of anonymity and distance. This has allowed Vigalondo to pull off a two-in-one; while the film straddles two genres as distanced from one another as the settings in which the story takes place, both are hard-wired into the consciousness of the popcorn-blockbuster filmgoer.

Hathaway’s character is no action heroine; she is a woman in crisis, with plenty of faults and a dark side that seems to include some hidden/forgotten trauma in her past. This is what the actress, who won an Oscar for her performance in Les Miserables [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
, found so irresistible about the role — and it’s why anyone who goes to see the film with an open mind, without any preconceptions, is in for a real treat with this highly original, audacious and unclassifiable film.

Colossal is a co-production between Brightlight Pictures and Spanish company Sayaka Producciones Audiovisuales. Voltage Pictures are handling sales.

(Translated from Spanish)

photogallery

international title: Colossal
original title: Colossal
country: Spain, Canada
sales agent: Voltage Pictures [US]
year: 2016
directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
screenplay: Nacho Vigalondo
cast: Anne Hathaway, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Jason Sudeikis

main awards/selection

Toronto International Film Festival 2016 
San Sebastián International Film Festival 2016 
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