During the awards pre-season at a time where the winning wheat is famously separated from the also ran chaff, Downsizing was thought to have been a potential Oscars frontrunner. With Alexander Payne at the helm we have a social satire that highlights the Human Race in crisis, the sort of stuff that gave The Descendants director his name and seemed a sure fire recipe for success.
Norwegian scientists invent a solution to the overpopulation crisis - Downsizing - the irreversible method of shrinking people in order for them to lead a wealthier and more stable life. Married couple Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey (Kristen Wiig) are stuck in a rut and believe Downsizing is their chance of a new start. Amazingly, despite its neat set up Downsizing has - at the time of writing - proven to be a a critical and commercial bomb.
Nonetheless Payne's pint sized picture appears a miniature masterpiece. No matter how many people choose to tear this flick apart I would certainly shrink five inches tall just to see it again. A topical story that deepens along the way, Downsizing stops at nothing to explore the weird and wonderful aspects of life - where we've come from and the unexpected places it brings us to.
Downsizing follows Paul, a normal man, in a normal job, wanting more from his uninspiring life. He and his wife Audrey make the courageous decision to downsize, discovering they will be able to live in luxury. Downsizing is an ambiguous allegory for life, the unexpected twists and turns it takes, what we view to be important - money and wealth? - what we learn from our experiences and how we take the step to break away from the comfort of what we already know.
Though quite literally his smallest performance, this might just be Matt Damon's most compelling yet. His character, your typical minimum wage worker who feels he deserves a little more from life, seeks a wealthier existence. Once he falls into the lap of luxury he soon realises it isn't all it's cracked up to be. Though Downsizers claim you live like kings - the story reminds us that there will always be people living in pain and squalor.
Paul realises there are many far worse off than him and with this revelation arrives his life's true meaning. Through Damon's character we see a man stuck in a mid life crisis who opens his eyes to experience things he has never dared to imagine nor had the chance to attempt. He eventually values normal aspects of the everyday, realising the truly important aspects of life and finding his purpose for the sake of helping others. This powerful realisation is aided by the feisty Hong Chau who develops the story from just being about the teeny tiny shrinky man who gets a big house and a nice car.
This is certainly not a story for everyone. Downsizing is a social satire with a clear, stark vision. It understands the story its trying to tell and finds a perfect balance between humour, heart and meaning. It is a picture designed to transport people - offering a complex look at our problematic modern world.
There are various interpretations to be taken from its thickly layered narrative, though you have to work for it and some viewers may not be rewarded in the way they anticipated. Downsizing is the five inch gift that keeps on giving - we deserve a story this topical - one that explores humanism and the seemingly unavoidable inevitability of much in life. Matt Damon and Hong Chau make stunning appearances in a nuanced, intelligent and powerful pint sized picture that preaches the value of the really important things in life.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.