Anne Hathaway Nails the Nuances of Sobriety in Colossal

As a lady in restoration caught between inside demons and gigantic monsters, Hathaway captures the distinctive struggles of staying on the wagon when the world goes to pot in Nacho Vigalondos genre-defying cult hit.


By Jacob Trussell · Published on April twentieth, 2022

Acting is an artwork kind, and behind each iconic character is an artist expressing themselves. Welcome toThe Great Performances, a recurring column exploring the artwork behind some of cinemas greatest roles. In this entry, we study Anne Hathaway’s efficiency in Colossal.

When I first watched Nacho Vigalondos Colossal I felt uncomfortably seen. It was April 2017, and I used to be deep in the throes of denial over my alcoholism. Im not out of management, Id say, repeating a lie Id change into a professional at telling myself by this level. But my denial was simply thata refusal to come back to phrases with the street my life had inadvertently gone down. My all-time low was speeding to satisfy me in sluggish movement. Anything that pressured me to replicate on that truth burrowed beneath my pores and skin to hitch a set of different habit tales I discovered distressingly relatable.

And thats the place my thoughts was as I sat in a darkish Alamo Drafthouse one Brooklyn afternoon, the acquainted clinking of highballs and pints filling the theater. The boozy viewers was unaware they had been about to witness an unflinching illustration of alcoholism and the thorny path it takes to get sober.

I discovered Colossal‘s themes on poisonous masculinity deeply shifting in the wake of the 2016 Presidential elections. But I didnt wish to interact with its commentary on the self-destructive nature of alcoholism. Because, in doing so, I must face my very own actuality; one which regarded extremely just like Anne Hathaways achieved efficiency as Gloria. To see a blackout drunk spend her hungover mornings crammed with disgrace frightened me as a result of it was me.

But what makes Hathaway’s Gloria distinctive from different alcoholic characters, like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, is how she resists making this yet one more story about the abject horrors of habit. She as an alternative crafts a compassionate portrayal of what real alcoholism appears to be like like, which permits audiences to know the actual people beneath the soused-up stereotypes.

Laid off from her job and dumped by her boyfriend over her unchecked consuming downside, Gloria strikes again to her small New Hampshire residence to get her life again on observe. She shortly meets Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a childhood pal who by no means left city, and now runs his familys bar. They change into quick associates, and Gloria integrates into his tight-knit circle of consuming buddies, enabling her alcoholism additional simply at the second she needed to cease.

But Colossal isnt nearly alcoholics and the those that love and allow them. Its also about gigantic monsters in the Japanese custom of kaiju. After waking up from yet one more nightly bender after blacking out in a childrens playground, her total world adjustments. News breaks {that a} gigantic monster has materialized over South Korea, decimating neighborhoods in the capital of Seoul. The horror turns into much more profound as soon as she makes the revelation that shes intrinsically linked to the monster, which solely seems when shes in a playground at precisely 8:05 every morning.

Hathaways Gloria involves this realization after she acknowledges the monster mimicking her personal private nervous tic. Whenever she feels a rush of anxiousness, she unconsciously picks at the high of her head, identical to the monster did because it smashed by way of South Korean skyscrapers.

This tic is a psychological gesture Hathaway makes use of all through her efficiency. Devised by performing practitioner Michael Chekhov, psychological gestures are bodily actions that assist externalize an inside emotion or motivation. As Gloria picks at her head, we see Hathaway making each a literal and metaphorical commentary on habit. Shes scratching at an itch that’ll by no means go away, identical to alcoholics take shot after shot hoping the subsequent will sate their unquenchable thirst.

Hathaway makes use of this gesture all through the first act of the movie to ascertain Gloria as a newly-sober nervous wreck. When Oscar invitations her again to his bar, she begins to scratch her head as she clocks each single liquor bottle behind the counter. She tries to avert her gaze, however the booze is sort of a magnet reminding her she has a endless thirst that fills her with disgrace. She doesnt wish to look, however she actually cant assist herselfa feeling each alcoholic is aware of too nicely.

This is one of the nuances of sobriety Hathaway completely nails in Colossal. This isnt the inventory cinematic stereotype of a city drunk who begs for a bottle of rotgut. This is a mere truth of actuality for all recovering alcoholics, whether or not youre 5 months or fifteen years sober. Were not fantasizing about the ecstasy of feeling drunk; had been paralyzed by the bodily embodiment of our trauma. As a cloud of quiet disgrace crosses Hathaways face as she stares into her boozy abyss, our hearts break. In an instantaneous, not solely can we see Gloria’s addicted longingbut we see how a lot she doesnt need substances to manage her life.

Anne Hathaway In Colossal


After Gloria realizes shes the kaiju destroying South Korea, we dont actually see Hathaway use that psychological gesture once more till the movie’s climax. You can think about her anxiousness would shoot by way of the roof after making the kaiju connection, however her tic doesn’t reappear till Oscars enabling takes a violent flip. I discover this exhibits Hathaway being extremely intentional in how she makes use of her physicality to characterize the feelings of an alcoholic getting again on the wagon.

As she begins to try to make sense of whats occurring to her life, she finds herself with a renewed sense of goal. One that doesnt revolve round when and the way shell get her subsequent drink. Even although shes contending with a cataclysmic occasion, as a result of she has much less time to linger on her cravings, or languish in self-destruction, her tightly wound ball of stress begins to unravel. Hathaways world could also be out of management, however her newfound sobriety is conserving her heart in a means her nervous tic by no means may. You don’t have time to drink once you’ve bought to cease an unimaginable horror.

It wasnt big monsters and robots attacking a significant metropolis, however in my early sobriety, I discovered my very own renewed sense of goal in writing. Funneling all that uncooked, newly-sober power into an artwork kind gave me the alternative to regain a inventive, emotionally-stable life once more. All as a result of I didn’t have time to sit down round dwelling on my trauma. Thats a narrative thats not solely my very own both. We can’t all be inter-dimensionally related to a kaiju, however each alcoholic finds restoration by reigniting their sense of purposewhatever that goal could also be. The resilience Gloria embodies as she takes inventory of her life is what makes Hathaways efficiency one of the most relatable depictions of sobriety Ive seen on display screen.

And that relatability is stretched all the means till the movies remaining shot. After touring to South Korea to personally put a cease to the chaos and destruction, Gloria stumbles right into a bar. As she sits down and begins to cry, the bartender asks her if she noticed what simply occurred. Gloria, delirious, asks her if she needs to listen to a tremendous story. The bartender replies with a query of her personal, Would you want one thing to drink? Gloria cringes immediately as the display screen cuts to black, sending the viewers into the foyer with one final sprint of levity.

But does Hathaways Gloria wince at this query as a result of she needs she may drink or is it one thing else? When the movie was first launched, Hathaway instructed Film School Rejects,

This film is for anyone thats been in restoration for 10 years, 20 years, who has that chip and is aware of you can defeat a monster, you are able to do the most heroic motion, [and] at the finish of the day you continue to cant have a drink. And that appealed to me.

Her reply shines a light-weight on how I consider that remaining shot needs to be learn. The drinkers in the viewers snort, seeing in Gloria the womp-womp consternation of an alcoholic who secretly needs they might nonetheless imbibe. But to seasoned survivors of alcoholism, as a result of Hathaway was consciously making a efficiency that might communicate to them, we see in Glorias response an ideal illustration of dry residing in a moist world.

The bartenders query to Gloria is benign. Clearly, she couldnt know our heroine is an alcoholic. But it will get to the coronary heart of an untold story of sobriety in a tradition that fixates on consuming. We should put together ourselves to interact with our trauma at any time when we go outno matter what.

Thanks to sobriety although, we additionally get to decide on how we react when all of the sudden confronted with our addicted previous. Do we let resentment over our incapacity to drink responsibly fester till it explodes, or will we don a clownishly exasperated face like Gloria to blunt the impression of a tricky query weve heard lots of of occasions?

Gloria’s quasi-comic response is a face each alcoholic can have made in some unspecified time in the future on their street to restoration. Its additionally a pointed encapsulation of why Anne Hathway’s vividly realized efficiency in Colossal is so relatable to the actual alcoholics in the viewers. She surfaces true nuances about alcoholism hardly ever explored in movie. Through the lens of kaiju cinema, she delivered a refreshing tackle the bodily and psychological tolls of habit that replicate the actual experiences of each particular person residing the relaxation of their lives on the proverbial wagon.

Related Topics: The Great Performances

Jacob Trussell is a author based mostly in New York City. His editorial work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Rue Morgue Magazine, Film School Rejects, and One Perfect Shot. He’s additionally the creator of ‘The Binge Watcher’s Guide to The Twilight Zone’ (Riverdale Avenue Books). Available to host your subsequent spooky public entry present. Find him on Twitter right here: @JE_TRUSSELL (He/Him)


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