As are many of this year’s movies, Downsizing is imaginative, unique and creative. It’s a journey through the planes of philosophical realization of mankind’s existence rather than a tidy story package. At times tragic and at times funny, it’s a philosophical treatise in the guise of a comedy.
You will possibly leave the theatre contemplating why you are here on this Earth. The story meanders – however in this case that’s not a bad thing.
The movie is full of irony. A view of a packing room at the “Omaha Steaks Factory” is the lead-in to a scene of the “clean room” at the technological site where humans are downsized to tiny beings a few inches high. Most of the audience did not catch the irony in that juxtaposition of scenes, as there was no prior set-up of the satirical style.
Christoph Walz’s self absorbed wacky playboy “Dusan Mirkovic” announces with a droll nonchalance, “The world needs a***holes. If not for a***holes where would all the sh*t go out.” Even that line did not get a proper comedic lead in, and many missed its sarcastic wit. Mirkovic could have been much funnier and better developed – a problem with the screenplay rather than the actor. The character should have been more developed.
Matt Damon is excellent as the bland everyman “Paul Safranek,” a telemarketer who is fooled by an aggressive marketing campaign (yet another ironic development) into drastically altering his existence. Kristen Wiig’s skill with innocent “straight man” delivery is way underused in her role as “Audrey Safranik.” The huge standout performer in Downsizing is Hong Chau, who plays “Ngoc Lan Tran,” the earthy “suffer no fools” heroine whose comedic timing is perfect. She does not take herself or her life too seriously and sees humor through tragedy. Hong Chau really carries the film in her first major role. The actress may be drawing on her own family history to bring depth and color to her character. Her parents were among the Vietnamese Boat People who migrated to Thailand where she was born. The family then moved to New Orleans where she grew up. I look forward to seeing much more of her work.
The cinematography by Phedon Papamichael is excellent. He establishes both the fantastical views of the “tiny” people and their world, and the scope of gorgeous landscapes, perhaps allowing us a moment of appreciation for our planet. This film plays out on many levels: fairy tale, satire, social commentary, comedy, Sci-Fi futuristic concept. The advantage in creating a project that is pure fantasy is that you can do anything you want. The problem is also the same: that you can do anything you want. There are a few great choices and many bad choices that a director can make. In Downsizing, both the good and the bad have won out. However it’s a wonderful imaginative film that leads you to contemplate the human condition, which is something that in this day and age, becomes more and more important as we have less and less time in our busy lives to do so.
Released December 22
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. firstname.lastname@example.org. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com