Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig, Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz
Despite the miniaturist theme of Downsizing, Alexander Payne’s (Election, Nebraska, The Descendants) latest – an audacious, fantastical sci-fi comedy about a couple who shrink themselves in search of a better life, starring Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig, Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz – it truly contains multitudes.
Occupational therapist Paul (Damon) wants a fresh start with Audrey (Wiig) in an overpopulated world. The planet is overheating, its resources depleting, the gap between rich and poor widening. Sound familiar? In Payne’s world, society’s solution is ‘cellular miniaturisation’, a scientific cottage industry shrinking people to Borrower size wherein they reap instant rewards: greater wealth, better housing; a more manageable, less anxiety-ridden existence.
But of course it’s not that simple and after the luxurious first shocks of smallness, Paul merely finds himself in a microcosmic America as troubled as its host. Continuing to search for greater meaning, it is in new encounters, particularly with former Vietnamese prisoner Ngoc Lan (a superb performance by Chau), that his world begins finally to expand.
It’s a high concept premise handled brilliantly by Payne, who exploits all the absurdities of scale to their full potential. Whimsical, witty and spry, Downsizing offers social satire, gentle romance and human drama alongside moments of pure comedy.