Alexander Payne’s social commentary about little people has big aspirations.
It’s been four long years since writer/director Alexander Payne released his critically adored film, Nebraska. Critics and fans can’t get enough of the razor-sharp wit, cutting humor, and scathing social indictments found in his films. Sadly, Payne has only directed two movies in the last ten years (which is far too few films) so there is loads of excitement for his upcoming picture, Downsizing.
Downsizing is a high concept sci-fi dramedy about a community of people who shrink themselves down to tiny sizes to live luxuriously while leaving a small ecological footprint on the earth. Payne is known for his heady material but as far as themes go, Downsizing is about as subtle as a jackhammer. A central message as blunt as Downsizing’s risks coming off as condescending and didactic, but if there is a filmmaker with the chops to pull it off, it’s Payne.
Payne shares screen-writing duties with his frequent collaborator Jim Taylor (Sideways, Election) and the duo found an exceptional cast to bring their work to life. As far as ensembles go, you could do a lot worse than Matt Damon (The Martian), Hong Chau (Big Little Lies), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters) and Jason Sudeikis (Colossal). Take a look at the trailer below.
So far, the story surrounding the film’s coverage his been its mixed reception by critics. People seemed to be hot on the film coming out of Venice but then Downsizing received a tepid reception in Toronto; some critics cited it as Payne’s worst film. Having caught Downsizing at TIFF amidst a whirlwind five-screening day, I wasn’t hot or cold on the film. Downsizing is juggling a lot of themes and tones and it felt like the movie offered up a little too much for audiences to chew on. My initial impression was that Downsizing felt like a setup without a punchline. Walking out of the theater, I thought I should revisit Downsizing away from a frantic film festival schedule.
Audiences don’t have to wait long to form their own opinion. Downsizing slips into theaters just in time to qualify for Oscar consideration, on December 22, 2017.
Here’s Downsizing’s synopsis:
DOWNSIZING imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over-population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall and propose a 200-year global transition from big to small. People soon realize how much further money goes in a miniaturized world, and with the promise of a better life, everyman Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in Omaha in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.