It's screener season which means suddenly finding out about movies I didn't know existed, like this one. Although it's not being released until the end of this week, so I sort of have an excuse.
This movie gave me another opportunity to remember that Alexander Payne is a director I really like, because I keep forgetting I really like him. Every movie he makes goes somewhere other than you think it'll go, which I'm sure is hell for the marketing folks. Often his movies have no easily defined structure, no clear ending and no "moral", which you would think would trigger the "why did you tell me this story?" response.
Judging from the reviews, many people DO object to Downsizing's quirky anti-plot and I don't blame them, because usually I'm one of those people too. Setups and payoffs? Fuggedaboutit. Seemingly major characters are established early on who then disappear and NEVER FREAKIN' COME BACK, in violation of every screenwriting "rule" known to mankind. If William Goldman sees this flick, I hope he brings his medication.
And yet, Payne you magnificent bastard, you made me okay with all of it. Again.
The film starts like you think it does - there's a new technology where people can be shrunk to five inches tall, which is promoted as a way for humanity to use less of Earth's resources while maintaining a luxurious lifestyle. More luxurious in fact, because your full-scale dollars go further when you only consume a fraction of what you did before. (Neil Patrick Harris fans get a treat here, in a sales pitch scene.)
So it's a movie about consumer culture, then? Not really. So it's a movie about the global socioeconomic repercussions of this technology? A little, but again not really. Is it a movie about the sci-fi aspects of life on a small scale - different physics and so on? Not at all, except for one visual joke at the very end which is pretty hilarious.
So what is it about? Well, Matt Damon does things and meets people and things happen and then the movie ends and for reasons I cannot begin to explain, I loved it. The strange alchemy of this movie means I can't "recommend" it, because don't know why I like it, much less why you should.
Okay, I can give one reason and that's Damon's co-star Hong Chau, who's been in lots of things I haven't seen so she was new to me. I adored her. I think she has a good shot at a supporting Oscar here.
*Strange side note - I looked up Chau on IMDB and was stunned to find out she was in the infamous Trenches - the web series made years ago by fanfilm guy Shane Felux. So let that be a lesson to everyone - you never know who's gonna make it in showbiz based on where they start.
Anyway, I dunno what else to tell you about this strange little hot mess of a movie. If you liked Payne's other works, or you just like watching Matt Damon be bewildered a lot, you might like this.