Alexander Payne has made a name for himself over the years making films that a little left of center. With films like Nebraska, Election, The Descendants, and Sideways he has managed to continue making films despite the fact that they don’t make tons of money and has earned a reputation as a solid filmmaker. With Downsizing he has probably made his first misstep. It is not that it did not do well at the box office as that is almost to be expected with a Payne film. Rather, it is that the film is so murky in intent and story that the viewer can never really connect to it on any level.
The premise here is that in order to live better lives and reduce human impact on the at its breaking point Earth people are now shrinking themselves down to 5 inches in height. Occupational therapist Paul (Matt Damon – Jason Bourne, The Adjustment Bureau) is married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig – Brides Maids, Mother!). They are living a childless, lower middle class existence. Just squeaking by financially. Both want more. A bigger house…no financial worries…
After Paul’s high school reunion where they meet a couple who have gone through the downsizing, Paul and Audrey agree to do it. They go through all the pretesting and after Paul wakes up from the procedure he finds out Audrey has backed out. Now Paul is divorced and alone in Leisureland
The premise and social satire involved in the film is quite brilliant, but as an overall package it rings hollow. I have to say I was disappointed. Especially since it had plenty of promise. Part 1 or the set up of the film is great and I was really into it. The world introduced was quite interesting. Obviously Payne thinks so as well as he gets so caught up in this aspect and the social satire that he completely neglects his characters. Doesn’t seem to quite grasp that a great idea alone does not a strong film make.
- Working with Alexander
- The cast
- A visual journey
- A matter of perspective
- That smile
- A global concern