Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: DOWNSIZING

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

The latest film by director Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”), “Downsizing,” was the Closing Night film at the Fantastic Fest film festival last September and the Sci–Fi comedy drama, a script he co-wrote with Jim Taylor, left audience members with plenty to think about our current world and the choices to be made if we so choose. If there was not a discussion at the end of the film by those who viewed it, it certainly will make for an interesting conversation once more audiences view the film when it opens theatrically this Friday, December 22nd across the nation. The screenplay is very original and engaging without pounding the viewer on the head about varied themes and the performances by various actors in the film are certainly not to be missed. There is plenty of humor in the script and it is certainly not the slapstick seen in other comedic films already in or arriving in theaters this month. An interesting idea to start the discussion might be would you do something like this in order to live rich?   

In the Payne/Taylor script, in the future some scientists abroad are able to reduce humans in size to fit and live in smaller living spaces, plus have less to dispose of and help the environment. Those folks who step up to do their part for the world (on a volunteer basis) will live very comfortably with the added wealth that comes with it.

“Downsizing” has comedic moments, but when a man finds himself facing bigger problems after he undergoes reduction, an irreversible process, the story presents another element to it altogether. Most amazing to me and a very important view that I am glad the co-writers added to this “fantastic world to live in” is a look at where the “others” live and what life is like in their section of this new world after tending to the ultra rich.

A married couple, Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and Audrey (Kristen Wiig), consider the program after their friends, Dave Johnson (Jason Sudeikis) and Carol (Maribeth Monroe), participated and now promote living in Leisureland. The “downsizing” is promoted and sold on the corporate side by Jeff (Neil Patrick Harris) and Laura (Laura Dern) Lonowski. Dusan (Christoph Waltz) and Joris (Udo Kier) are Paul’s neighbors who love to party (constantly) and open his eyes to a very different experience from his past. Soon, Paul meets Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau), a Vietnamese shrunk against her will and works as a maid. His worldview changes after an incident and results in learning more about her reality. Hong Chau (“Inherent Vice and HBO’s “Treme”) provides an outstanding performance of this surprising character. She is worthy of the nomination for Best Supporting Actress awards to date (Golden Globe among them) and perhaps even more as the season rolls on.

Hopefully now with the theatrical release and more audiences to view it, the result will be a huge hit at the box office. Hopefully, there will be additional award nominations for the film overall.

Additional cast includes: Brigitte Lundy-Paine, Joaquim de Almeida, Margo Martindale and Texas born Pepe Serna (“Scarface,” “The Rookie,” “American Me,”) as Senor Cardenas, among the many other supporting cast.

The film is rated R and the running time is two hours and 15 minutes. Release Date: Dec 22, 2017

Source: Paramount Pictures

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