Humanity’s impact on the earth might not seem like such a suitable topic for a comedy, though some attempts have been made, they are few and far between. Often it is a mixing of ideas that helps heavier topics see the cinematic light. For instance, what if we were smaller? That could be an intriguing way to phrase humanities relationship with the earth and the resources we consume. In 2017, these ideas were put towards the public, in an inventively indefinable blend of genres, known as Downsizing.
In the near future, Dr Asbjørnsen discovers a way for humans to be reduced to a size of 12 cm, offering huge advantages both economically and for the planet, as the tiny humans consume a lot less. Everyman Paul and his wife Audrey decide to go for it, only after Paul has the procedure, Audrey has second thoughts over the last second. Now Paul must adjust to his new life. Though being small is not paradise, especially without his wife, economic disparity is still an issue, as Paul meets a Vietnamese dissident who shows him a fresh perspective after being shrunk down.
Such an ambitious concept is deserving of a star-studded cast, and Downsizing does not take its name literally in its ensemble. Matt Damon is a fine fit for the lead as Paul. He is not alone, while downsized he meets the charmingly charismatic Christoph Waltz who plays a decadent playboy and connective tissue of the community. Being joined by comic legends of Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis helps the comedic through-line of Downsizing shine. Though attention should be paid to Hong Chau playing Ngoc Lan Tran, she brings some classically comedic touches and much of the plight of the downsized world, managing to encapsulate in a character, the film’s entire feel.
Downsizing tries to tackle a lot in its two hours run time. It feels like a combination of films sewn together, offering a smorgasbord of interesting concepts, that could each hold the spotlight independently. The fictional process yields some delectable foods for thought such as Fear of outsourcing, environmentalism, faith. There is a lot to unpack, a lot more than the light-hearted trailer would first suggest. Though not entirely heavy, as the film is still a comedy, this mainly comes across in its light-hearted visual style, the audience is treated to sights of tiny people, going about their ways, living in dioramas, or seeing wedding rings the size of them is brilliant from beginning to end.
Downsizing takes its quirky premise and covers a lot of different points that its simple proposition tantalisingly offers. The cast manages to balance the heavier and lighter elements of this pleasing mixture of comedy, drama, and approachable sci-fi. A visually imaginative and bouncy film that though dealing with shrunk subjects, Downsizing manages to hit 100% its size in effort.
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