DownsizingJanuary 14, 2021
Director: Alexander Payne
Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Actors: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau , …
Seen on TV, dubbed in french.
Technology has made such a leap forward that thanks to Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen, it can also serve ecology well. The good doctor has found a way to reduce human size. Downsizing means reducing the quantity of products needed for survival and leisure, but also reducing waste. A total benefit for the survival of the human species if it ever adopts the principle. And of course there is also a good financial reason: anything you couldn’t afford in the real world, you can in the small world since everything, absolutely everything, costs less to manufacture.
Thus, ten years after the announcement of this scientific revolution, Paul Safranek, therapist, and his wife decided to take the plunge. Actually, Audrey won’t do, aborting the procedure in the preparation step. So she leaves her husband alone in the small world. Enough to start a new life under somewhat special auspices. Especially since Paul will quickly realize that the world that has been shown to him as perfect is clearly not as perfect as it should be.
Downsizing takes its time. 2 h 15min, exactly. But when the introductory part that sets up the scenery already takes almost 45 minutes, finally, that’s not too much. Well it wouldn’t be too much if the director had something to say. The big concern with Downsizing is probably what people thought it would provide and what it actually provides. I just watched the trailer again and, if I skip the scenes that I absolutely can’t remember, the editing of completely game-changing scenes and lines of dialogue, there’s clearly a clash of expectations.
I thought that the small world ones would bring novelty, particular adventures, completely different decisions to be made because, precisely, the characters are in a new small world. An ecological fable that would show the pros and cons of a technology like the one presented to us. A bit of fun dystopia with some crazy concepts. Unfortunately, all of this is only present on the screen too rarely and too quickly.
Because the film content is based on social criticism. To be completely clear, Leisureland is a magical world that hides its misery as in our actual world. There are outcasts, people left behind, who should have been entitled to much better than their previous life. Maybe it does, maybe the people we see nestled against the outer shell of Leisureland are better off in the small world than in the big one. However, it will never be really explained (I haven’t slept during the movie but maybe I watched a total massacred version).
From a fun concept, the film steeps into a depressive image that the human being seeks only his own profit and that despite new cards given to everyone, the global behavior doesn’t change. Ultra-consumers race for who gets the biggest anything, partygoers still won’t care what state they leave the place they party in, little hands will always do the dirty work and extremists of all stripes will always be that crazy. As such, the character played by Matt Damon is quite interesting because if his kindness will push him to live his egalitarian convictions to the full, his comfort (and possibly his feelings) will get the better of his survivalist fights.
Actors are quite good and if even though Matt Damon has the title role, it is probably his partner Hong Chau who steals the show. In any case, in the French version, I was fascinated by this small and strong woman who really knows where she is going and what she wants. The duo works perfectly, giving real moments of comedy.
Christoph Waltz is excellent but hey, that’s pretty much still the case in any movie he plays and seeing Udo Kier’s old face always does a little something to the genre fan that I am. Regarding the French version, it obviously makes us lose a lot of puns written in the dialogues (you only have to watch the trailer in their original version to realize it), which is frankly a shame.
Downsizing is a movie that I enjoyed watching (the editing is well done and no scene lasts too long) but that I don’t think I will keep in in my memory for a long time. It allows to start some discussions and provoked in me some moments of reflection, which is always good to take. However, it does not earn its stripes of “good movie”, even if with a rating of 5.7 / 10 on IMDB, I find the viewers a little harsh with this film.