We’ve been giddy in anticipation for the Anne Hathaway/Kaiju movie since its first trailer. And with this fantastic and freaky film finally hitting select theaters, now comes the return of the spoiler-packed conversations of Kristy Puchko and Rebecca Pahle, as they dive into the second act twist and shocking climax of Colossal.
Kristy: So, Rebecca. This was a movie I’ve been gushing about for weeks, but in that annoying “WAIT TIL YOU SEE IT” way because I in no way wanted to spoil the second act reveal. But now it’s out, so we can SPOILER WARNING and dissect the twist and killer climax.
Rebecca: With the caveat that, if you have not seen this movie, you should back the hell out of this discussion right now, because Colossal is the sort of movie where it’s infinitely preferable to go in blind.
Kristy: So, the trailers make it seem like it’s a quirky comedy about a daffy Anne Hathaway discovering she’s somehow controlling a Kaiju that’s trampling all over Seoul.
Rebecca: With a little smidge of Sweet Home Alabama romance in there, too. Dan Stevens is the asshole, citified ex-boyfriend, and Jason Sudeikis is the down-home boy next door who helps Anne Hathaway work through her issues!
Kristy: Right, BUT, then we discover:
1) She’s not the only one with this monster-managing power.
2) Her drinking buddy Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) can make a massive robot appear.
However, while alcoholic Gloria (Hathaway) takes this bizarre turn of events as a BIG sign she needs to change her ways and be less selfish and oblivious of her negative impact on others, Oscar decides its the perfect way to essentially force Gloria to do anything he wants. Because if she doesn’t, he’ll destroy Seoul and kill people. Because he gives no fucks.
Rebecca: Because he is actively resentful of her. That’s his whole character arc, gradually revealed: ever since they were children, he’s hated that she’s been, in his mind, better and more successful than him. He’s stuck in this small-town life with this job he doesn’t really like, and he takes all this anger and self-hatred and turns it around on her.
Kristy: I’ve heard some people are stunned at not only this reveal, but also the turn in Oscar’s character. Like he goes from nice guy to genocidal maniac pretty quick. Do you see it as a dramatic turn?
Rebecca: I thought the turn was handled pretty well. It felt gradual and well-earned to me. There are moments early on that definitely raise red flags.
Kristy: Agreed. His “nice guy” behavior is steadily revealed to be Nice Guy behavior, meaning it’s less about being good to her and more about being “nice” so she’ll choose him over her posh British boyfriend back in NYC.
Rebecca: For example: One of the first things Oscar does in this movie is drop by Gloria’s house with this HUGE TV. He tells her they’d discussed him giving it to her the night before; she just didn’t remember because she was drunk. Later on, you realize he was totally gaslighting her, and they probably never talked about the damn TV. But even at the time he gives her the TV…. it struck you as weird too, right? Giving this huge-ass gift to a woman he barely knows?
Kristy: Totally. And not only is it HUGE—which seems to be more about his need to look impressive than hers for a TV—but also, he insists she “wanted it.”
Rebecca: It’s one of the things I love about this movie: its subversion of rom-com tropes. Because rom-coms are FULL of things that are weird and gross and borderline abusive, but they’re presented as “romantic.” And in Colossal, they play with the fact that you’re conditioned to Hollywood movies to THINK they’re romantic. But no, they’re totally warning signs, like they would be in real life.
Kristy: Then there’s lines like “She asked for it.” And Gloria’s in such a messy moment, she doesn’t trust herself, so she trusts him.
Rebecca: And he knows that. He manipulates her messiness. But, at the same time, the movie is always very clear about never framing Oscar’s behavior as Gloria’s fault. It’s not “oh, well, if only she hadn’t been passed out he wouldn’t have been able to do that, so it’s not entirely his fault.” No. It’s VERY clearly his fault. And it’s a very slow, gradual reveal, for me.
Kristy: The distributor, NEON teased this twist with a clever clip, where he basically reveals he’s been stalking her online. And it doesn’t play as cute. It’s creepy. And his trespasses grow more and more alarming.
Rebecca: Like “Ohhh, Oscar’s kind of being a creeper here… ok, no, that’s REALLY bad, but are they… are they really doing this? They’re really doing this!”
Kristy: When it’s revealed he broke into her home, I screamed. And he actually says stuff like “Please know that I’m only being this pushy because deep down I know you want it.” And “I’m done with being Mr. Nice Guy.”
Rebecca: Implying that he thought he was a nice guy before then! In this guy’s head, he’s being completely reasonable. Which I discussed in an interview with the director, plug plug.
Kristy: I watched Colossal the first time sitting between a young woman and an older man. They both enjoyed the movie, but I noticed during the red flags, she was cringing and even gasping. He was unmoved until much later on. Because he’s being “nice” to her. So what’s her problem?
Rebecca: And I spoke to an older gentleman who said he thought Oscar’s transition from good guy to evil abuser was too abrupt. And I was like, “What the fuck movie did you see?”
Kristy: Right. Because rom-coms have long promoted Nice Guy behavior. A girl says she doesn’t want to see anymore? Go to her house with a boom box and blast Peter Gabriel.
Rebecca: There are red flags ALL OVER. One that stuck with me is a bit that takes place after Gloria/Monster has slapped Oscar/Robot, and it’s basically been turned into a meme. Oscar is humiliated. And he won’t. stop. watching. the. video. This guy’s super-sensitive to humiliation, especially humiliation at the hands of a woman. But he’s passive aggressive about it. He never confronts her or anything. He just lays on the sofa playing it over and over and over. And I’m like, “OK, that’s sexist men who harass women on Twitter. That’s it right there.” They’re resentful, they’re sensitive to perceived humiliation, they hate women because they think of themselves as superior to them and don’t like when the world doesn’t work out that way. They’re passive aggressive and think of themselves as reasonable and nice and not abusers.
Kristy: Exactly. It’s not even about him wanting her anymore. It’s about his resenting her for being “bigger” than him in any sense.
Rebecca: There’s a line of dialogue that Gloria has: “I used to think you wanted to possess me, but it’s so much simpler than that. You hate yourself. You can’t stand that your life feels so small.” And I’d have stood up and clapped if I weren’t, you know, in a movie.
Kristy: I’m in awe that a man wrote this, because it’s SO aware of the little warning signs women notice about entitled men. At SXSW I spoke to Colossal’s writer/director Nacho Vigalondo, I asked him how he became aware of such red flags. And he said he has a lot of female and feminist friends, and he listens. He suggested this story is theirs too. And he said, “The Nice Guy is one of the most terrible identities you can wear these days.”
Rebecca: You can tell he was very thoughtful about how he presented domestic abuse and this dynamic.
Kristy: He made it a point to write Oscar apologizing, because that’s also part of abuser behavior. When I saw this movie, I wanted to text you immediately. Because we’ve repeatedly complained about how horror movies have somehow avoided making a “Nice Guy” a bad guy. And HERE IT IS! Though not in a horror context. Still Nice Guy is the true monster here.
Rebecca: Ooh, I know what I wanted to talk about: The ending: SHE STRAIGHT-UP KILLS HIM.
Kristy: I spoke with Nacho about that too, and he said that Hathaway actually fought that ending. She worried it’d make Gloria ultimately unsympathetic.
Rebecca: It almost did, for me? But then the way it actually HAPPENED, it felt almost cathartic, in a way. Not wish fulfillment, but…. yeah, kinda wish fulfillment. As an audience member, you want to see this man bite it.
Kristy: I mean, I get it, because it’s essentially capital punishment. But there’s no other recourse. He’s perfectly comfortable using a foreign metropolis as a tool for soothing his bruised ego.
Rebecca: And you don’t feel like she wanted to, it’s just that she couldn’t think of another way to stay out from under his thumb.
Kristy: It’s got a fairy tale element in the end. Because she pitches him away, and then we see the robot blink out of existence. It softens the grisly reality that he died by being chucked from a great height. But also, fuck that guy!
Rebecca: Yeah, it does feel fairy tale-esque. And his final line is—I don’t remember it exactly, but he essentially is blubbering “don’t kill me, don’t kill me” and then SNAPS and yells that she’s a bitch. (Which I don’t know that she would have heard? But still. He’s not going to change.)
Kristy: Yup. He’s offered a chance to repent. And he refuses. He’s too far gone, overdosed on toxic masculinity.
Rebecca: Goodbye, fuck-o!