Will a crazy high-concept translate into a great movie?
Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz star in this surreal, often brilliant piece of conceptual filmmaking from Alexander Payne.
It’s not often that we see something so bold and revolutionary in its worldbuilding technique, or something nearly as compelling as Downsizing. Payne goes to great lengths to document the transition process – dedicating around 30 or 40 minutes of his runtime to it – in which time that audience was completely engrossed. Reunions, trips, and everyday life become occupied with ‘the small world’ – these 5-inch tall people appearing alongside full-size ones at social events and becoming the life and soul of the party. And then, we begin to witness Paul becoming sucked into this spiral of jealousy – the idea that he’s looking for a neon American dream amidst the tedium of everyday life. The formalities of drinking the Kool-Aid are given even more impressive heft, as every step from turning up to open days, to signing dubious papers (“do you acknowledge that the procedure may result in death?” the Safraneks are asked with a disarmingly sunny disposition by a woman in a lab coat), to actually being shrunk, and getting used to life in the small world.
Just like the real world, the saviour of humanity is humanity itself. Christoph Waltz’s Dusan may be a chauvinist asshole, but he’s also a kind man who feels genuine love for his neighbour. Likewise, for all Damon’s bitter, meaningless plastic aspirations, he has a genuine heart of gold which he uses to help those that he comes across. By the end of Downsizing it becomes clear that what we were being asked all along was what it means to be human in the first place.
|Downsizing gets 4 stars!|