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Downsizing (2017)

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A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.

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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Paul Safranek
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Dusan Mirkovic
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Ngoc Lan Tran
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Audrey Safranek
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Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen
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Anne-Helene Asbjørnsen
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Konrad
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Dr. Andreas Jacobsen
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Paul's Mother
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Dave Johnson
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Carol Johnson
Phil Reeves ...
Audrey's Dad Larry
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Anesthesiologist
Alison J. Palmer ...
Anesthesiologist's Wife
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Good Friend Tim (as Timothy Edmund Driscoll)
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Storyline

"Downsizing" follows a kindly occupational therapist who undergoes a new procedure to be shrunken to four inches tall so that he and his wife can help save the planet and afford a nice lifestyle at the same time.

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Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi

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Release Date:

22 December 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pequena Grande Vida  »

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2.39 : 1
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Trivia

Pre-Production began in 2009, but the project was put in a turn-around when Alexander Payne decided to put it on hold to focus on The Descendants, then later, Nebraska. See more »

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User Reviews

 
An uplifting and funny shrinking movie about our flawed society.
17 September 2017 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This is probably one of the most original movies I have seen in years. Director Alexander Payne and writer Jim Taylor have taken something so straightforward with the idea of shrinking and brought a thought provoking and satirical spin to it. This film tackles political ideas you wouldn't expect like the environment, immigration and the class system. In the near future, Norwegian scientists have figured out a solution to help the planet sustain itself from overpopulation. The answer: Literally make the population smaller. Years after the process called Downsizing became available to the public, people have been getting themselves shrunk and living the tiny communities built for them. Here Payne and Taylor use this concept to explore the economic and political ramifications as the people and governments abuse the technology to avoid the world's problems rather then taking a part to fix it. Average middle-class citizens are getting themselves shrunk not to help the environment but rather as an excuse to live like royalty in downsized communities like Leisureland since their credit will be worth way more at 5-inches tall. As news report talk about the fear of shrunken terrorists sneaking past borders, governments in other countries use downsizing to oppress the people by shrinking human right groups so their voices will go unheard.

Looking through the story is Paul Safranek, played by Matt Damon. Damon brings a lovable charm and wit to Paul who represents the middleman that dreams of something greater. When Paul gets the chance to start over thanks to downsizing, this doesn't go as well as he planned. His wife Audrey abandons him before she can get downsized, he ends up working in a mediocre job in Leisureland and begins to see how flawed and unfair the world really. The real standout of this movie though is Hong Chau. While Damon's Paul represents the average American citizen, Chau's Ngoc Lan stands as voice of the lower class. As an activist that argued against her Vietnamese government's inhuman ways, she was sent to prison, lost a leg and later downsized to no longer be a bother to the system. Chau brings what could have been a one-dimensional stereotype an amazing sense of humour, and emotional complexity. When Paul begins to look at Leisureland's flawed class system through her eyes, it takes these characters on a huge life-altering journey. Also we finally get to see Christoph Waltz have a fun and memorable as Paul's rich, contraband-dealing neighbour Dusan.

Payne and cinematographer Phedon Papamichael use scale to create stunning and hilarious shots. When we start with Paul at normal height, the shots are wide and open with negative space. Once we enter Leisureland, the shots and sets become more compact to make you feel the change in size. Payne definitely takes advantage of this being shrinking movie to bring so many hilarious visual gags from having a giant rose sitting on a dinner table to beautifully directing the funny sequence of Paul's downsizing procedure.

The movie however struggles a bit with the narrative. It moves from one kind of story to another as it is tackling so much political subject matter. It did feel like it was different scripts that the crew worked on before combining them all into one. Kristen Wiig as Paul's wife Audrey felt like the cast member most affected by the in-balanced plot structure, as her screen-time was so short in comparison to the movie's run-time. The third act does become a little heavy-handed about global warming leading to a bit of bleak tone.

But the movie in the end redeems itself when it cuts back to Paul's character growth. Despite some narrative issues, Payne doesn't loose sight of Downsizing's uplifting message: No matter how small we are or how large our problems will get and whether it is the fear of our crumbling society, a dying Earth or death itself, the solution is to face it not avoid it.


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