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Romantic Comedy or Monster Movie? For Colossal Filmmaker, Why Not Both?

Giant monsters attacking helpless citizens overseas play a key role in this story of a alcoholic woman trying to straighten out her life in New York.

Nacho Vigalondo is a fan of kaiju — or classic Japanese monster movies — but that doesn’t mean he was trying to make one with Colossal.

Sure, giant monsters attacking helpless citizens overseas play a key role in this story of a alcoholic woman trying to straighten out her life in New York. But the latest genre mash-up from the eccentric Spanish filmmaker isn’t a classic creature feature.

“The premise involves including the monster-movie element from a distance. Instead of having fights in front of your nose, we have people reacting to those through the media,” Vigalondo said. “I was trying to be really humble and think about the budget that I would have available.”

However, what if Vigalondo had a larger budget? Would he have tried to stage some large-scale Godzilla-style action? He insists that’s not necessarily the case.

“If you have more money, then you have more time. I would have enjoyed the process more because I would have had more time to build scenes, and more time for rehearsals and to cut the movie. But I don’t know how this movie would be better with more money,” he said. “Some people thought I was making a spoof of those films. But this film is not intended to comment on those films. It’s a whole different movie with all of these other layers.”

The subversive story follows an alcoholic woman (Anne Hathaway) who gets dumped by her exasperated boyfriend (Dan Stevens) and experiences a mental breakdown. She’s comforted by a former childhood classmate (Jason Sudeikis) now running a bar, then realizes news of a kaiju beast attacking Korea might be strangely linked to her own troubles.

“It didn’t become an actual script until I realized who was going to be the main character,” Vigalondo said. “Once I found Gloria, the movie was in front of me.”

With its mix of science-fiction quirks and real-world grounding, Colossal might be the most mainstream film yet for Vigalondo (Open Windows), even if that wasn’t his intention.

“I’m not trying to make things that are more accessible. I’m just trying to things that can be cool and funny. For me, the movie is an attempt to surprise people,” Vigalondo said. “The fact that this movie has become bigger than expected and has this kind of cast — maybe people perceive that this is me jumping to the next level. But it’s a happy accident. When you write this movie, you have to be ready to make it in a much smaller way.”

Vigalondo, 40, theorizes that the higher profile of this film compared to his earlier works might be because of the presence of stars such as Sudeikis and Hathaway, who was especially enthusiastic about her role.

“She felt really related in many ways to this messy, affected character,” he said. “I never thought of her playing this character for the simple reason that I never expected this movie to have an A-list cast. It’s like a blessing.”

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