“Colossal” and Subverting RomCom Tropes

My boyfriend and I have a Saturday night tradition. We have a nice, home-cooked meal and afterward we watch a movie. Whether it’s a classic or a new one doesn’t matter — the only requirement is that it provide a satisfying cinematic experience. When the lights come on, you’re more than amused or distracted, you’re a little dazed, a little wobbly, and still immersed in that alternate reality the story created. One such movie was the Anne Hathaway-Jason Sudeikis vehicle “Colossal” from 2016, written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Every plot twist defied my expectations. What at first seemed like a sci-fi version of a rom com subverted genre conventions and turned out to be a deep exploration into this often-problematic genre. If you haven’t watched it yet, there are plot spoilers ahead, so you might want to read this after screening it.

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Anatomy of a Script: “Gallipoli”

Some weeks ago, I caught Peter Weir’s Gallipoli for the first time on Amazon Prime. The movie drew accolades when it came out in 1981. I caught scenes here and there on TV, but never watched from beginning to end. Anyway, from those snatched, distracted viewings, I got the idea that it’d be another bloated epic from the 80s that had been much praised when it came out but that didn’t hold up. But, man, was I wrong!

Gallipoli is a war movie about the disastrous WW I campaign, in which Australian and New Zealander soldiers were slaughtered at Anzac as the Allies attempted to open up a sea route through the Dardanelles. It sounds like an epic, but the emotional power of the movie lies in Weir’s focus on two Australian boys and their friendship. Archie Hamilton (Mark Lee) is 18, a naive, idealistic farm boy, living in the middle of the Australian outback with his family. In contrast, Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) is from the “big city,” a few years older, street-wise and a bit of a hustler. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both talented runners.

To tell a big story, go small and take your time. So I’m going to analyze how David Williamson, the scriptwriter, and Weir structured the script. (This structure, by the way, can also work if your story has two protagonists.)

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