Movie review: Downsizing Redefining the term downsizing

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By 2018-02-04

By Nirupa Mohan
Ceylon Today Features

Downsizing is the latest science fiction, drama film by renowned director Alexander Payne, a man known for his work on The Descendants (2011) and Sideways (2004). It released recently with Matt Damon taking centre stage as Paul Safranek, an occupational therapist, who decides to trade in his stressful life, to shrink in size and live large, based on a new way of living, that's explained as a solution for overpopulation.

The film with the tagline "We are meant for something bigger" was produced together by Payne, Jim Taylor and Mark Johnson, in collaboration with Ad Hominem Enterprises. It features a story written by Taylor together with Payne, focusing on a strong premise, as per the film's title, that's consistent from start to finish.

Meanwhile, the movie stars Kristen Wiig, who initially plays the role of Paul's wife, Audrey Safranek, Hong Chau stars as Ngoc Lan Tran, a Vietnamese activist, while Christoph Waltz plays the role of a Serbian party boy and neighbour, Dusan Mirkovic, and Jason Sudeikis plays a small but prominent role as Dave Johnson, a long-time friend.
The film introduces a new concept, explaining that scientists have discovered a way to shrink humans as a clear and easy solution to combating overpopulation and conserving resources, as a result, humans have the opportunity to join in and take advantage of the programme and become just five inches tall.

The film creatively explores in detail the process, and shifts the story solely on Paul, who with his wife decide to take the leap and downsize their lives and leave their stressful existence behind, trading it in for living in luxury in a downsized community.
The story changes when things don't go to plan, and with Paul having to figure out what he needs to do next, the plot evolving with him making new friends and meeting a girl along the way, while having a few life choices to make that become the films core plot.

The movie seems to make a creative impact with the fresh film plot and supportive visuals but fails to deliver enough to be an engaging script that should ideally be focused on enhancing the core story for it to develop. As a result it feels like it lacks a flowing story.

The story clearly focuses on placing importance on enhancing the story's core premise, that the procedure needed to downsize an individual is permanent and is not reversible.
And it does manage to stay centred on attention to detail in terms of becoming small but living large, explaining that money become bigger, because their consumption or usage of resources are smaller in size and quantity, while it also portrays downsizing as an actual solution which helps the environment, without compromising, but explaining and emphasizing on living like kings.

Matt Damon's character needed more dimension in the film, while Hong Chau's character seemed to have more depth but was delivered with a more over the top impactful approach, that some may like while others would likely feel that it needed to be better scripted.

The 135 minute film, made with a budget of 68 million, failed to be a financial hit, raking in just over 37.6 million dollars at the worldwide box office. Meanwhile, the film went on to receive moderate ratings, with 50% featured on Rotten Tomatoes, 5.8/10 on IMDb and 63% on Metacritic.

This is an ambitious and bold movie, which is a clear gamble especially with the movie changing direction every now and then, making it a film that some will like for the visual creativity while others will just be bored after the initial introduction to downsizing.

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