Us humans are fans of excessive consumption.
In Downsizing, in order to stop (or at least slow down) our destruction of the planet, Norwegian scientists come up with a plan.
The thought of five years’ worth of waste filling just one bin liner? Incredible.
How are they going to do it? Shrink us.
The nuanced pieces leading to ‘going small’ are great. Jason Sudeikis sitting on a box of biscuits, Matt Damon lugging a rose bud the size of his torso around and Udo Kier FedEx-ing his boat across the country – there are lots of little joys to be had in the small world. Joys that you’ll probably giggle at until the plot gets lost somewhere in a Norwegian forest.
After a fresh and inventive first act, the rest of the narrative quickly dries up. It almost feels like a coming of age journey for Matt Damon’s character, Paul Safranek. He can’t do anything right – literally everything he does is unsuccessful. We expect him to make the right decision (or at least solve some of the problems going on in the small world) but he’s so downtrodden by the hand he’s been dealt, he just mopes around for most of the film. I’m all for an anti-hero or an underdog, but this was pretty pathetic to watch.
Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau do the heavy lifting, as a morally damaged importer and Vietnamese asylum seeker respectively. Their comic timing as a direct result of Paul’s ineptitude takes the edge off tedious plot revelations. It’s no shock that Chau has been nominated for more awards than the film itself.
The disappointing (and frankly, frustrating) thing about Downsizing? There were so many ways it could have played out: big vs little civil war, mini conspiracies, the world being saved. Instead, it force feeds you more than an inconvenient truth. It’s terribly on the nose for such a potentially satirical piece of cinema. I’ll give it 3 flicks, simply for the opening 40 minutes.
My desire for a self portrait like Christoph Waltz has in his apartment.
The let down? The ending. And not seeing more of the smaller world.
Audience rating? Easily the worst cinema experience of my life. One family talked throughout and laughed every time Hong Chau spoke. A woman answered her phone, then checked her messages. And another person had a recurring cough that’s usually only heard when you’re being sick or about to die. Awful.