Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz
Released: Out Now
Downsizing is a sci-fi about shrinking people, and their whole lives, down to matchbox size to save on resources, but at the same time give people more consumer rich lives - all in response to worldwide over-population problems and resource issues. There are ecological and humanistic issues to address alongside the broader comedy that comes from the high concept although towards the end some of the humour is lost as things get more complicated, whilst some questions are left unanswered altogether.
Based in middle America in Omaha, Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig are Paul and Audrey Safranek - a couple who are apparently happy with each other but discontent with life. Once downsized their money will go further and they will live an improved lifestyle. However… Audrey leaves Paul in the lurch when she doesn’t go through with the irreversible procedure whilst Paul is shrunk.
Now living in Leisureland, Paul is alone and after a costly divorce finds himself having to take a menial telephone call centre job. Christoph Waltz is his somewhat shady neighbour who imports cigars and booze from Serbia in order to capitalise on the profits to be made. There are also other lower classed citizens of this micro-world who are given menial jobs in the cleaning and service industry. This raises some serious questions about the class divide, but never really answers them.
Downsizing has an interesting concept that despite remaining fully explored still produces an interesting and thought provoking film. There is humour and intrigue with some enjoyable performances from Damon, Wiig and Waltz. Damon may be better known for action films, but his ability to work with comedy is impressive, he holds his own starring opposite Wiig who is of course Saturday Night Live comedy royalty.
The final third of the film goes off at a rather unusual tangent, about the original group of downsized people deciding to burrow into the earth to make a home away from the impending doom of melting ice caps. Paul has to make a decision whether to join them.