LFF 2017: Downsizing Presents An Alternative Solution To Climate Change And Overpopulation

Credit: Paramount Pictures

In recent years, it became obvious that climate change is a real threat to the world. There have been numerous attempts at stopping it or at least slowing it down. In the movie Downsizing, an entirely different option to tackle climate change and the overpopulation of the world is explored: shrinking humankind.

After Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink people to just five inches tall, they propose a 200-year plan to miniaturize the entire world. Many are fascinated by the new discovery. It doesn’t take long until people realize how much more their savings are worth in a smaller world. Among them are Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey Safranek (Kristen Wiig) from Nebraska, who cannot afford a better life for themselves, despite working a lot. They are clearly unhappy with how their life turned out so far. After a high school reunion, where they find out that a couple they are friends with downsized, they decide to take the step and shrink themselves.

They took the necessary steps, sold everything and are ready to get smaller. It only takes five hours on the big day to get small. After successfully getting shrunk, Paul finds out that Audrey panicked and couldn’t do it.

As the procedure is irreversible, Paul lives a miserable and depressing life, doing a job he doesn’t want to do and seeing a woman he doesn’t want to see, after Audrey and he get a divorce. Only after meeting his upstairs neighbor Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz), his life takes a turn for the better. He meets Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), a Vietnamese activist who got shrunk against her will by the government. She became famous for surviving an attempt to go to the US a few years prior in which she lost her foot.

Due to her, he sees that not everything in the smaller world is good. There are also people suffering. He starts helping them to be a little happier and to make their lives better. This is when he begins to realize what his true calling in life is.

The concept of Downsizing is really fascinating. I like the storyline in general a lot. It is an interesting approach to the solutions scientists have discovered to take on climate change and overpopulation.

The characters in the movie, however, were a little dull, especially the main character Paul. He couldn’t have been more ordinary. He lives a boring and simple life with nothing that excites him a little bit. It doesn’t really change much after he gets shrunk. His character is also quite flat. He always does the right thing, which made his actions predictable. Not that Matt Damon didn’t do a good job portraying Paul. He did a really good with what he had to work with. It was just the character that couldn’t really fascinate the audience.

Hong Chau as Ngoc Lan Tran, on the flip side, was just hilarious. She made the movie a lot better, along with Christoph Waltz as Dusan. The two of them helped Paul to make bolder choices. They made his life more exciting, something he clearly liked in the end. It also helped to make the movie more exciting and funnier. In retrospect, Ngoc and Dusan really should have been the main characters of the movie, as the audience could engage more with them than with Paul.

There wasn’t much of a storyline or one big antagonist that the group of friends had to take on. Downsizing was quite enjoyable and you will have a good time watching it. It also leaves you thinking about what other ways there could be to solve the current major problem of the world. There was no aspect of the general plot that left you thinking “this doesn’t make sense”. While we cannot shrink people, the whole concept of it in the movie made sense.

Downsizing will be shown as part of the London Film Festival and will have its UK premiere on October 13th. It will have its general release on December 22nd in the US.

Anna Hattingen