Matt Damon has become one of the top draws in Hollywood at the box office and for good reason. He is a solid actor and can lead pretty much any kind of movie on his shoulders. He is not an actor that disappears into roles but rather one like Harrison Ford who brings his charisma and screen presence into each role to make it familiar but unique. He has done sci fi (Elysium, The Martian), action (The Bourne Series), drama (We Bought a Zoo, Promised Land), thrillers (The Adjustment Bureau, Contagion), and dark comedy (Suburbicon, The Informant!). And more often than not, his films perform well making him one of the most bankable stars today. And it is that versatility in his project choices that make for some pretty out there films. His new film Downsizing is on shelves now and is definitely one of his films that falls into the ‘other’ category.
Paul Safranek and his wife Audrey (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) are an average couple just trying to get by. A new technology starts becoming popular, Downsizing, where regular people are shrunk down to four inches tall and live in tiny custom communities where their wealth is adjusted to their size making life much more comfortable. Paul and Audrey decide to go for it but when Paul arrives in the small city he finds out Audrey backed out at the last minute leaving Paul alone with much less money. Now Paul must find a new purpose in life if he is to ever find happiness.
Downsizing starts out as a predictable gimmick comedy. The whole concept of people being tiny and living with the rest of the world being big is played up in a light, silly fashion. But once Paul and Audrey decide they are going to take the leap and go small, the movie really shifts gears and becomes much more oddly dramatic. It ends up becoming strictly Paul’s story, focusing on his feelings of regret about going small, and trying to find a life for himself in his new situation. I question why Wiig’s name and image are on the poster at all, her role is really nothing more than a cameo. The whole film feels cold and detached, it is hard to put into words how odd it feels, almost like the film itself isn’t even sure what exactly it is. But the highlight of the film is Hong Chau who becomes a friend/love interest to Paul. She is absolutely captivating on screen and really the only character I cared about in the end. I came away from Downsizing not really liking it overall, it felt very unsure of its own identity and was lacking in any real connection. But it is totally worth one viewing to take in this original film and decide for yourself and to appreciate Chau’s excellent performance.