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Film Review: Downsizing

08:00 December 29, 2017
By: David Vicari

So, I am sitting in the movie theater and Downsizing ends and, as the credits begin to roll, an audience member shouts out, “That sucked!” Now, I liked this film but part of me sympathized with him because trailers and TV spots sold the film as a raucous comedy about people getting themselves miniaturized so they can party and consume copious amounts of booze. Some of that does happen in the film (and it could have used some bigger laughs) as Downsizing does satirize consumerism, but it is also a drama on the human condition. It is occasionally wry and funny, but at other times thought provoking and even depressing. It examines the way people treat one another and also ponders the state of the world. Pretty heavy stuff. That's not surprising since it's directed by Alexander Payne, who has made smart satires (Election) as well as thoughtful comedy/dramas (About Schmidt).  

In the film, Matt Damon plays Paul Safranek, a once promising doctor now working a factory job, who decides to have himself shrunk to just five inches tall to get out of debt and live a better life. Things don't go as planned for Paul. First off, his wife (Kristen Wiig) chickens out on the irreversible procedure, leaving Paul alone in a small world. 

Damon plays it straight, and Christoph Waltz is hilarious as his party loving upstairs neighbor, but it is Hong Chau as a Vietnamese refugee and activist involuntarily turned small who steals the film. Chau, who was raised in New Orleans, delivers a deep, emotional performance that really grounds the movie. 

So, now you know if Downsizing is the right fit for you.  

*** out of four

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