“Downsizing” Review ✦✦✦✧✧

10 January, 2018

Director: Alexander Payne
Screenwriters: Alexander PayneJim Taylor
Director of Photography: Phedon Papamichael
Matt DamonChristoph WaltzHong Chau

Synopsis: In an alternative reality where scientists opt to shrink people in order to combat population growth, a dissatisfied man and wife agree to sign up for the treatment, hoping they can replenish their lives while cushioned in a safe environment.

Downsizing Review:

A bizarre ‘what if’ story from the creative mind behind a number of wacky existential comedies, “Downsizing” is an apocalyptic consideration for a world of imperfection, carrying a ridiculous premise while partially unpacking the malaise behind counterproductive community values. Practically PG in execution while randomly explicit in a bid to be taken seriously, the film reminds us of the reality behind stark social experimentation, staging a new environment with familiar issues as a separation from traditional living leads rather expectedly back to the same human predicaments.

Written with enough cameo potential to keep viewers conscious throughout its establishing scenes, “Downsizing” is larger than life despite its small stature, poking fun at middle class fads and having a whale of a time scoffing in the face of identity politics. Playfully aware of the assumptions that come with everyday stereotypes, the movie finds meaning through wholesome comedy, pushing C-lister Hong Chau into the limelight as a partially legless Vietnamese fugitive whose flawless comedic timing and emotional finesse carries the weight of Alexander Payne’s torpid screenplay.

With a concept more pleasing on paper than it is on the big screen, “Downsizing” struggles to balance the little with the large, creating a rift between two worlds and alienating viewers from its eventual point of departure. An idyllic gimmick that’s both reckless without bounds and critical of hypnotic impulse, the film is socially aware without stating its motives, using the odd sight gag to pad out reams of drifting fodder. Made with a commitment to environmentalism, suburbanism, and stark minimalism, “Downsizing” comes together through thematic stamina alone, framing social commentary with a plea for simple observation in a world of disparity.


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