D: Alexander Payne
Paramount/Ad Hominem (Mark Johnson, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor)
USA 🇺🇸 2017
W: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Kevin Tent
Mus: Rolfe Kent
Matt Damon (Paul Safranek), Christoph Waltz (Dušan Mirković), Kristen Wiig (Audrey Safranek), Jason Sudeikis (Dave Johnson), Hong Chau (Ngoc Lan Tran), Udo Kier (Joris Konrad)
The concept Alexander Payne delivers with Downsizing is better than the movie, which begins quite promisingly but tails off in a direction where the issues it raises aren't clear, nor the genre of the movie itself.
Set in a near future where the Earth's resources are nearly depleted, Norwegian scientists create a procedure which becomes known as downsizing, where people are shrunk down to about five inches tall and can reside in communities where they live a life of leisure in opulent mansions.
Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig), struggling with money problems and finding a suitable house, decide to undergo downsizing, but when Paul is miniaturised, he discovers that his wife didn't go through with it and subsequently files for divorce, taking half of their finances and sentencing him to a miserable life not too far removed from his one as a regular sized man. After striking a friendship with his obnoxious neighbour and a Vietnamese dissident who cleans apartments and scavenges for a living, Paul travels to Norway and the very first downsizing community where it emerges that the environment is in a much worse state than originally thought.
It's a shame that the movie itself downsizes from a quirky sci-fi comedy into a preachy sermon about how we should love our planet, and if the main premise were in the hands of a director like Spike Jonze or Wes Anderson, it could have been a much more different and interesting film. As is, it has some good production design and one excellent standout performance from Hong Chau, aside from this, it's among the biggest disappointments of 2017.
The trailer certainly mis-sold the movie.