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Downsizing Movie Review (Venice Film Festival 2017)

Downsizing Movie Review

Matt Damon (center) stars in co-writer-director Alexander Payne’s sci-fi comedy-drama, ‘Downsizing.’
Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Title: Downsizing

Director: Alexander Payne

Cast: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Maribeth Monroe and Jason Sudeikis.

Thomas Robert Malthus had already predicted the perils of over population, back in the eighteenth century. The witty director of ‘About Schmidt,’ ‘Sideways,’ ‘The Descendants,’ ‘Nebraska,’ Alexander Payne, seems to provide a futuristic solution to the problem that inevitably unveils the corrupted capitalistic soul of mankind.

If in ‘Honey I’ve Shrunk the Kids,’ reducing the size of a family occurred by scientific error, in ‘Downsizing’ it is the solution that some Norwegian lab technicians come up with to save human extinction. The experiments and the cause become so popular they go global, with increasing requests by people who want to shrink to five inches (12 centimetres) in order to live on the fat of land, plunging in luxury. Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) are tempted to join the miniaturized world.

The social critique is staged terrifically both in terms of technical effects, majestic shots and brilliant acting. The cast (Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Maribeth Monroe, Jason Sudeikis) is amusing, moving, and enthralling. Hong Chau is the true revelation of the cast with her bold interpretation of Ngoc Lan, a one-legged former prisoner who continues her mission to help the underprivileged in the wonderland of little people: Leisureland.

The Lilliputian world, that shifts from utopia to dystopia, portrays how those who downsize, to apparently embrace a more sustainable and less expensive existence, will discover how much further money goes into the new kind of lifestyle. Paul’s Swiftian personal journey intertwines with the experiences of the idealists and the profiteering, to mock the dark side of scientific progress.

Technical: A

Acting: B

Story: B+

Overall: B+

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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