She wakes up one morning to commotion on the news: A skyscraper-size monster a kaiju, to borrow the Japanese word for Godzilla and its ilk appeared overnight in Seoul, Korea, terrorizing the locals. Gloria soon realizes that the monster has the same nervous tic she does, and she figures out that the kaiju's appearances in Seoul coincide with her drunken walks across the playground. When she shares this revelation with Oscar and the gang, their reactions take the story down a dark path of childhood memories and recriminations.
Give the Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo ("Timecrimes") credit for the most cleverly absurd premise since "The Lobster." Give him further credit for nurturing this seed of an idea into something bigger, a thoughtful parable of a woman battling demons taken to literal extremes.
("Colossal" is the first release of the new distributor Neon, formed by Tom Quinn, co-founder of the Weinstein Company's former branch Radius, and Tim League, co-founder of the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain. Neon aims to include short films with its features, and here the company is showing Peter Huang's "5 Films About Technology" as a humorous appetizer.)
Backed by a chilling performance by Sudeikis, Hathaway commands the screen here. In a shaggy wig and rumpled jacket, she plays down her gamine leading-lady persona to get inside the soul of this screwed-up young woman as she confronts the monster in her own past.
That's the beauty of "Colossal": Hathaway isn't playing a polished, perfectionist, Hollywood ideal of a female character. Her Gloria is messy, prone to error and sometimes self-hating. In short, she's a human being and it's instructive that Hathaway had to make an Asian monster movie to find one of those.
Anne Hathaway gives a strong performance as a messed-up woman who discovers a link to a monster terrorizing Seoul.
Where • Area theaters.
When • Opens Friday, April 14.
Rating • R for language.
Running time • 109 minutes, plus a 5-minute short, "5 Films About Technology."