Downsizing (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Downsizing</strong> (2017)

(Netflix Streaming, August 2018) Aaargh. There’s a really good Science Fiction movie struggling to get out of Downsizing, but the one we see, as written and directed by Alexander Payne, isn’t it. I am, for once, not going to comment on the biological nonsense of reducing humans to a height of 13 cm. I will grant the movie that one big deviation from reality. Where I’m not going to be so lenient, however, is in forgiving the direction ultimately taken by the film’s story after the shrinking is explored. While the earliest parts of the film do have their moments and intriguing details, the film soon goes off in a direction that is markedly less interesting than anticipated. Rather than keep going in the direction of social criticism, Downsizing settles for the end of the world and, in going so, seems to lose its way. The film’s first act does seem to set up a far more ferocious film that the one that follows: It puts all the pieces in place for a reckoning about the sustainability of “small wealth” (considering that it depends on temporary externalities and a precarious agreement with “the bigs”—consider the havoc that even one common house cat could wreak) and an even deeper satire of capitalism run amok … but no. None of the film’s disappointment comes from the actor—Matt Damon is a perfect American everyman, Christoph Waltz is an intriguing Lothario, and the entire film is stolen by Hong Chau as soon as she shows up. Alas, it’s the script that fumbles midway through and doesn’t recover as much as misdirects away from the themes it sets up in its first half. What a shame. At least Downsizing tries something and fumbles, which is more than we can say for most movies these days.

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