Monday, December 25, 2017


Movie Name: Downsizing
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Udo Kier, Rolf Lassgard, Ingjerd Egeberg, Jason Sudeikis, Maribeth Monroe, James Van Der Beek, Tim Driscoll, Laura Dern, Neil Patrick Harris, Margo Martindale, Mary Kay Place, Pepe Serna, Joaquim de Almeida
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

Director Alexander Payne is back after the success of "Nebraska" which came out in 2013. This time around, he tackles an original screenplay he wrote with his usual writing partner, Jim Taylor (they both wrote "Election" and "Sideways"). The film takes place in a near future, where concerns with the environment and the future of the human race, has incentivized scientists efforts to figure out solutions to delay the demise of life on Earth. A group of scientists in Norway figures out a way to shrink people to a small percentage of their original size, therefore diminishing their footprint and the level of waste they generate. This trend soon becomes a reality, and more and more people start adhering to it, creating communities of downsized people. A young married couple from Omaha, Paul and Audrey Safranek, dealing with money issues, decide to embark on that process. Paul however is the only one that goes through it, since Audrey has second thoughts. Since the process is irreversible, Paul finds himself alone in the downsized community, "Leisureland", something that becomes more dramatic after his divorce. Paul soon finds himself establishing contact with neighbors, and particularly with a young woman who comes to his building to clean apartments, a Vietnamese refugee who was shrunk against her will. This friendship changes his life forever.
"Downsizing" is another interesting companion piece to the series of films that Alexander Payne has been directing since "Citizen Ruth". Behind its futuristic setting, we once again find the story of an average man, who has to come to terms with what he wants to do with his life, following a dramatic event that shatters his sense of normalcy. "Downsizing" adds extra layers of political and social commentary, as it presents many of the problems we in society in general juggle, such as the ostracizing of other communities/minorities, immigration, the general state of the environment. It's a film filled with great themes, but also with a heart, allowing for characters to exist, with nuance and humanity. There is a general sense of ease as the film evolves, inviting the viewers to question, reflect, without ever being preachy. The score from Rolfe Kent is wonderful, as is the cinematography from Phedon Papamichael. The cast is uniformly good, from the always reliable Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Kristen Wiig and the surprising Hong Chau. A good film worth watching.