Saturday, April 15, 2017

Colossal and abuse

[Content note: discussion of abuse]

*Tap, tap* Is this thing on? LOL! I'm so original in acknowledging how long it's been since I blogged last.

AAAAAAaaaaaanyway, as I've mentioned before, I'm only writing when I feel inspired and HEY I got inspired by seeing Colossal yesterday.

In case you're not familiar, the premise of the movie, or at least what you can ascertain from the trailer, is that Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a mess of a woman who has been dumped and moves back to her home town. She reconnects with an old friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), and then realizes that she is somehow cosmically connected to a giant kaiju-esque creature that appears in Seoul, South Korea, when she steps foot onto a playground by her former elementary school.

Seeing the trailer (like a million times, thanks, Alamo Drafthouse) piqued my interest and I couldn't imagine what in the world had made a random woman able to control (or embody?) a huge monster in Seoul. I wanted to see it because I wanted to learn the mythology of the story.

It turns out the film was about so much more and I had NO IDEA it was going to head in that direction. So, let's put this out there immediately: THIS IS SPOILERY. If you want to see this film, don't read further until you get a chance to see it.

The movie actually ends up being about, at least to me, abuse and toxic relationships. It turns out that Oscar also has a weird giant being (a robot) that emerges in Seoul when he is on the same playground. Immediately, instead of being about WHY and WHAT THE HELL is going on in this situation, the narrative turns to the relationship between Oscar and Gloria and their newfound power.

Oscar, who at first appears to be a lovely, helpful old friend (offering Gloria a job and furnishings for her house; helping her get back on her feet) turns out to be a dangerous abuser. She almost kisses (and eventually sleeps with) their mutual friend and we start to see Oscar's darker side when he is irrationally furious at her interest in another man. Things really come to a head when he realizes that Gloria is horrified by her own power (she falls when she's drunk on the playground, which results in death and destruction in South Korea) and he can exploit her feelings. He is menacing and violent, repeatedly tries to controls her, and keeps her in their hometown against her will, by threatening to use the robot to kill people in Seoul if she leaves.

When we first see his violent strea, Oscar (like a classic abuser) appears to be beyond apologetic and repentant for his behavior, but (again like a classic abuser) his manipulation is aimed at keeping Gloria trapped and he cycles back to rage and violence. It becomes revealed that Oscar has kept up on Gloria's life despite years and miles of separation and he is sort of obsessed with her.

Overall, I feel the relationship that Oscar and Gloria display is representative of the general violence that men inflict upon women in our society--and how it is normalized from a young age. We see a flash back to their childhood were Oscar is stomping on Gloria's school project. Although they don't show it, I could hear the adults in their lives saying something like, "Oh he just picks on you because he likes you." Despite this past, when Gloria first sees Oscar again as adults, she doesn't remember him in a negative light; his violence to her then had apparently been brushed aside and her memories of him, initially, are all positive.

Of course, years later in their lives, with the main narrative of the film, Gloria is seeing Oscar for who he really is. When Oscar once again has the chance to control Gloria, he becomes a metaphorical father and she the metaphorical mother to the people of Seoul.  He uses them as his pawn in Gloria's life, the way abusive men often use children as pawns to control their wives. "You leave and I'm killing them" --"them" being children or citizens of Seoul. The world media, rightfully obsessed with the strange monster and robot that appear in Seoul, begin to realize and report that the monster is the protector of the people against the robot, in the same way that so many women have had to be protectors for their children over abusive fathers.

And in the end, Gloria, thankfully, finds a way to escape and ultimately has to kill Oscar to not only save herself, but also thousands of people.

I'm not saying this movie is "feminist." (Many would disagree that it is.) And I'm not even saying that my interpretation is correct. But I am saying that this film had way more layers than I anticipated (it defies categorization, as Vox put it) and it's definitely worth a watch!

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