Downsizing

**1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Downsizing: 'Wiig’s departure is a blow from which the film never quite recovers'
"There is a message here which is neither fresh nor original" | Photo: Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

A Good Idea Does Not A Good Movie Make

Stick that on your wall. Think about it. And then add (Sometimes).

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What's the matter this time? Chemically shrinking people to the size of a mouse to help the over population crisis is a cool concept, right? Better than colonizing Mars.

Immediately you start this train of thought you bump into other movies, other novels. Not the little people necessarily but the Nirvana happy bubble thing where life is perfect and if there is a downside you flip into denial mode as faceless thugs in discreet uniforms make certain that manic depressives and negative vibe activists are locked down, or wiped out. Not that this happens here.

Alexander Payne's brave new world isn't a thriller like Elysium, another Matt Damon vehicle, with similar paradise constraints, but rather a thoughtful, sincere ramble. You build Leisureland - who builds it? who pays for it? - where everything you ever wanted is provided. Of course there will be blips and pips. No crime, they say. Really? What do you do for fun after 10 o'clock at night? Who does the shitty jobs? Are there shitty jobs? Is there an underclass?

Questions keep piling up as Paul Safranek (Damon, in one of his Everyman roles) takes the unbelievable step to go small - irreversible by the way - because he has reached the rim of a mid life crisis and needs to break the cycle of bills and beer and nowhere left to look.

In Leisureland he is as boring as he was in Big US. His neighbour (Christoph Waltz) in their not-so-high-rise is a party animal which pisses off Paul, a "keep the music down" type. They end up mates because you can't sit around in a gloomy apartment by yourself forever while the wild crowd are getting it off upstairs.

The real change comes when Paul meets an ex Vietnamese political activist with a false leg and a high octane attitude (inspirational performance from Hong Chau) who works as a cleaner and lives in the arse end of Leisureland where poor people struggle to survive.

There is a message here, warning against cult brainwashing and the importance of remembering the less fortunate who fall through the cracks of happy, which is neither fresh nor original, especially when experienced by a yawn-sized nice guy who wants to do the right thing but cannot make up his mind.

Reviewed on: 25 Jan 2018
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Satire about a man who starts to think he would have a better life if only he could shrink himself.

Read more Downsizing reviews:

Anne-Katrin Titze ****1/2


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