Thursday, 25 January 2018

Downsizing


In the near future science is clutching at straws in a way to extend the lifespan of the human race. Water, food and space is in short supply and so downsizing is invented. People are shrank down to 5 inches in height so they can make the most of their savings and make food go a hell of a long way further. 

Matt Damon plays Paul Safranek, a man leading a dull and financially strapped existence who decides to take the leap in the hope it will make his life a bit more enjoyable. Things never work out the way you think they will though. Life is pesky that way.

Downsizing is an odd jumble of a film. It takes a seriously high concept idea and turns it into a relatable one. It's clever and inventive and original but it just has too many ideas going on and this turns it into a mess. An interesting opening third turns into a dullish middle third that finally finds its footing just as it goes off the rails totally in the final third. Director Alexander Payne can't be faulted for lacking ideas or imagination though.



It's a film trying to decide what it wants to be that has a story about a man trying to decide what he wants to be, that also manages to be a look at class, the dangers of technology and science, the terrors of climate change and be a satire on Trump's America. Slightly overstuffed. The film feels padded out because of this and is way too long at 135 minutes. 

There's fun to be had though. Tearful one eyebrowed women, eurotrash packed parties hosted by actors we are more used to seeing playing terrifying roles (Christoph Waltz who's sleazily hilarious and Udo Kier who's deadpan as all hell), Matt Damon's stoned party face, the utter absurdity and invasiveness of the downsizing process, one darkly funny description of what can and does go wrong during the process and then the appearance of Ngoc Lan Tran. Played perfectly by Hong Chau, Ngoc mightn't appear until half way through the film but she rapidly becomes the heart of it. She starts off as a pidgin English speaking stereotype but her innate goodness and humanity shines through rapidly and she steals the film out from under Damon effortlessly. 



There's enough ideas in this film for a miniseries at least. Maybe it might have been a better idea actually. It's a grand film, clever and full of fine performances and themes that will make you think but it's messiness to hard to ignore. 

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