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dir-scr Nacho Vigalondo
prd Nahikari Ipina, Russell Levine, Nicolas Chartier, Zev Foreman, Dominic Rustam
with Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Hannah Cheramy, Nathan Ellison, Sarah Surh, Haeun Hannah Cho, Carlos Joe Costa, Melissa Montgomery, Christine Lee
release US 14.Apr.17, UK 19.May.17
16/Canada Voltage 1h49
Monster problems: Sudeikis and Hathaway
TORONTO FILM FEST
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a fierce sense of style, lots of attitude and a clever story that quickly spins into something wildly unpredictable, this film transcends genres from comedy and drama to monster sci-fi. So even if it kind of oversteps its own mark, this is a powerfully involving mix of earthy humour and dark emotion, with a plot that intriguingly subverts expectations to entertain and challenge us to confront our demons.
After yet another drunken night out in Manhattan, Gloria (Hathaway) is dumped by her boyfriend (Stevens) and returns to her childhood hometown. She runs into old classmate Oscar (Sudeikis), who offers her a job in his bar, which perhaps isn't the right place for her to cut back on her alcohol consumption. There, in addition to reconnecting with Oscar, she she meets Garth and Joel (Nelson and Stowell). Meanwhile a gigantic monster has started terrorising Seoul, and Gloria begins to notice an odd connection, as if her actions are somehow controlling the creature.
The film has a superbly offhanded quality that makes it feel organic. The plot's rhythms are natural and engaging, so the monster mayhem feels genuinely horrific and inexplicable. And the dramatic intensity grows as Gloria's various relationships are further strained both by alcohol and the escalating mayhem in Korea. Where this goes is increasingly squirm-inducing, with pitch-black humour and some very bleak interaction. Which gives a heart-stopping edge to the fantasy sci-fi chaos.
Gloria is a hot mess, a black-out drunk who's always the life of the party but can't remember anything the next morning. Hathaway plays her with a naturalistic charm that isn't always likeable. But then each performance plays with audience sympathies. Perennial nice guy Sudeikis brings a shocking edge to his role, as Oscar has a rather unnerving meltdown of his own. And there are also unusual textures for Stevens, Stowell and Nelson to explore in smaller side roles.
While the premise doesn't quite sustain itself over the running time, Vigalondo's script astutely layers meaning into the story. There's even a political slant, as Gloria observes that if the monster only attacks Seoul, the rest of the world won't care. Essentially, this is the moment Gloria realises that she's killing people with her monstrous behaviour. But there's a lot more to it than that, as Vigalondo goes on to explore the nature of destructive relationships in a way that chills us to the bone.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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