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New York magazine recently declared, "It's not cool to hate Anne Hathaway anymore" — and "Colossal," an inventive and emotionally resonant drama about self-loathing taken to extremes, is the reason.

Gloria, the character Hathaway plays here, is a woman out of control. A barely functioning alcoholic who stays out all night partying with friends, Gloria is thrown out of her Manhattan apartment by her exasperated boyfriend, Tim ("Beauty and the Beast's" Dan Stevens). With nowhere else to go, she relocates to her empty family home upstate to figure out what happens next.

She runs into an old schoolmate, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), and ends up hanging out at the bar he inherited from his father. Oscar even offers her part-time work as a waitress there. So she ends up drinking PBRs into the morning with Oscar and his buddies, the hunky Joel (Austin Stowell) and the conspiracy-theorizing Garth (Tim Blake Nelson). She stumbles home in the early morning, taking a shortcut through a kids' playground.

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.

Twitter: @moviecricket —



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."