Downsizing: Film Review

Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing was one of the films I was so excited to see at LFF, which is why it was one of the most disappointing. It had such an intriguing and original concept, but it just didn’t know what to do with it.

After scientists discover how to shrink people to five inches as a means to tackle the overpopulation crisis, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to “go small” after learning that their money goes further and there is a better quality of life in the Leisureland community.

The premise is excellent – hats off to those who came up with such an unique idea. I couldn’t wait to see where they went with it – and that’s where I was disappointed. I cannot fault the beginning, when the idea is introduced, we see small and regular-sized people in the same frame, and the whole process of downsizing is very, very interesting and also really funny. But the makers seemed to run out of gas after that, like they had no idea where to go with such an awesome concept. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, so basically just follows Paul’s encounters with partyboy Dusan (Christoph Waltz) and Vietnamese activist Ngoc (Hong Chau).

Damon plays the same sort of everyman type he plays all the time, Wiig (who I love) is not in it enough, but the saviours are Waltz and Chau, who provide a lot of the comedy. Waltz plays against type as this chilled out guy who is all about having a good time, and Chau plays a very loveable character, although audiences may have issues with the Asian stereotype. There are also some excellent cameos from Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern, Neicy Nash and James van der Beek.

It isn’t an awful movie but I was just expecting so much more. It started to feel slow, boring and long in the second half, which is a shame because I was fully captivated in the beginning. Wasted opportunity!

Originally seen as part of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. In cinemas Wednesday 24th January 

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