Cert: 15 Runtime: 135 mins Director: Alexander Payne Cast: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Jason Sudekis and Kristen Wiig
We are meant for something bigger
Alexander Payne is a hit and miss director for me, with captivating films like Election and Sideways he tends to wobble at time. Downsizing was panned by most critics and a film I refused to watch at LFF on two separate occasions. Downsizing has a captivating premise but it wasn’t necessarily for me. It has finally come out in UK cinemas so I thought I would try it out. So what is Downsizing about you ask? When scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.
If you came to see this movie because of the trailer or because of curiosity of what a world would be like if you were 5 inches instead of 6 feet, then you paid for about 45 minutes. In this dramedy, which also in part a social satire of its own genre. There are many characters that come in and out of this film in a heartbeat, pretty much leaving them in the dust, when in reality they were actually interesting and added a layer to the overall story. It felt as though Alexander Payne wanted to focus so much on the idea of the Downsizing concept, that he sidelined quite a few characters along the way. This is a movie that promises a lot and tries to deliver on all of those promises, while also shoving in side plots that make this film too emotionally complex to really be invested in the satirical aspects by the end. It attempts to be funny, humorous, satirical social commentary, and it ends up being a pathetic mess.
The attempts at social satire are either fleeting glimpses of obligatory bigotry to drawn out stereotyping designed to insult the intelligence of the audience and the ethnic/socioeconomic groups portrayed. In the end, the writers resorted to stereotypical gutter language in an attempt to add humour to a humourless situation. The closing scene, apparently designed to imply Damon’s character found personal validation, actually shows that a doormat will always be a doormat, even if he or she is appreciated by those who walk over them. Sadly Downsizing’s overly-ambitious exterior falls to Payne’s editing techniques i.e. the pacing, at 2 hours and 15 minutes the story often feels stretched as Payne tends to linger on a couple of shots, granted they’re stunning but they ultimately end up empty, which also impacts on the film’s central heart. Sure this may pass through some thanks to Payne’s hilarious light-hearted writing but to others the big premise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.