By no means a small feat.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Downsizing is one of those films that’s built on a strong premise, but fails to live up to its full potential. While its overall narrative falls short, it’s still an enjoyable watch thanks to the fascinating world created by writer/director Alexander Payne (Nebraska).
The issue of overpopulation has rarely been committed to film, which in itself makes Downsizing refreshing to watch, but even better is Payne’s proposed solution to this problem, being to shrink a chunk of society to a height of five inches.
Much like how Zootopia looks into animals co-existing in a human environment, Downsizing explores how normal sized humans would live alongside those of tiny stature, and this is where Payne’s film excels. He adapts our world to accommodate for the minuscule, with small compartments on trains designed specifically for those only five inches tall, and looks at the divides that could arise between these two factions. Hot topics include whether the small should be allowed voting rights, tax exclusions and income changes, and while I would have enjoyed more insight into these hypothetical issues, I appreciate that Downsizing isn’t really about the rights of the little people.
At the end of the day, it’s about Paul Safranek (Matt Damon); a small man looking to find himself in a world that’s too big for him. In focusing on Paul’s plight rather than the challenges of a society segregated by size, Downsizing has copped a bit of criticism, but with such a great concept in play, it’s difficult for any protagonist to be equally engaging. In a way, Payne’s creativity is his own downfall; his premise outshines his story and its characters.
Having said that, I was still able to empathise with Paul and the person he became throughout the process of being shrunk. He’s also surrounded by strong supporting characters, with Christoph Waltz offering a lot of fun as his loud and crazy neighbour.
While polarising, I think the positives outweigh the negatives in Downsizing. It’s no Academy Award winner, but by golly is it fun to watch. Go see it.
Downsizing is available in Australian cinemas from Boxing Day
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures