Saturday, December 29, 2018

Review: Downsizing (on DVD)

[DVD Downsizing]

If you saw the trailer for this intriguing film by Nebraska-born film-maker Alexander Payne, you might have thought it was going to be a raucous, goofball comedy film that employed a lot of sight gags reminiscent of the old the 1960s TV series Land of the Giants, in which our miniaturized heroes deal with a whole lot of massively over-sized props. And if you watched only the first 45 minutes of this film, you might still think that’s all that this film had going for it. But there’s more going on here than initially meets the eye.

Matt Damon stars as Paul Safranek, an occupational therapist struggling to make ends meet with his wife wife Audrey. When European scientists perfect the technology to shrink humans to a 5″ height, Paul and his wife consider the possibility of making use of the non-reversible procedure — living at a smaller size, their modest nest egg of investments would allow them to live like millionaires in the new society that has been created to cater to those who have “downsized”. That’s the basic set-up. But when things don’t go quite as planned for Paul, that’s where the film shifts into an another tone and style.

What was generally a funny film, filled with site gags and “big ideas”, suddenly becomes a far more introspective and thought-provoking drama. The change is a bit jarring, and I’m not sure that the latter half of the film really lives up to the potential it showed early on. But it is still a very intriguing film, and shows that Alexander Payne is still pushing creative boundaries as a film-maker. And, as will almost all of his films, he manages to include references to Nebraska in this film as well — Paul and Audrey initially live in Omaha! Good performances from a well-chosen cast, including Christoph Waltz and Rolf Lassgard (A Man Called Ove). Just be prepared for some whiplash when the film changes directions partway through!

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Downsizing web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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