- Colin Fraser
FOUR STARS Paul's world turns inside out when he shrinks himself for the good of the planet (and his budget).
Starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz
SCIENCE FICTION COMEDY DRAMA #DOWNSIZING
Here’s a proposition. If you could join a community where your environmental footprint was so small it really made a difference, and where your modest income suddenly gave you the life of a king, but the catch, because there always is one, is that you have to be shrunk to 250th of your present size, irreversibly, would you do it?
That’s the premise of Alexander Payne’s (THE DESCENDANTS) curious social satire, one in which Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife (Kristen Wiig) decide to downsize for a better life. Suffice to say, nothing goes to plan and Paul soon finds himself lost in this brave, new, theme-park of a world. His Euro-trash neighbour, an on-form Christoph Waltz, loosens Paul’s strings while a Vietnamese dissident peels back the McVeneer of their mini-world to show how life may now be different, but is also very much the same-same.
DOWNSIZING is a film of its parts; about the journey rather than the destination. It’s a good thing given the zig-zag route Payne takes to get from comedy through science fiction to the film’s elegant pay off: each stop along the way is scintillating. Full to overflowing with personal foibles and the smallest (pardon the pun), sharpest observations about the human state, it also hits the biggest themes about our place in the world, and our inevitable demise. Quite literally as it turns out, with the final chapter taking Paul to Norway where savvy Scandinavians are prepping to save us from ourselves.
DOWNSIZING is a complicated, far-reaching concept that in lesser hands would be a recipe for disaster. In Payne’s it is something remarkable. Funny, thoughtful, unnerving, uncomfortable and effortlessly entertaining, here is a significant work from a significant talent: a film with something to say that knows how to say it.