From Todd McCarthy‘s Venice Film Festival review of Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing: “[This] is a wonderfully outsized movie for these times if there ever was one. Alexander Payne has taken a conceit heretofore used for gag-oriented sci-fi and comedy, that of shrinking human beings down to the size of a finger, and breathtakingly transformed it into a way of addressing the planet’s overriding long-term issue.
“Captivating, funny and possessed of a surprise-filled zig-zag structure that makes it impossible to anticipate where it’s headed, this is a deeply humane film that, like the best Hollywood classics, feels both entirely of its moment and timeless. It was a risky roll of the dice, but one that hits the creative jackpot.
“The rare director who has never made a bad film, Payne has now arguably created his best one with a work that easily accommodates many moods, flavors, intentions and ambitions.
“At its core, Downsizing grapples head-on with the long-term viability of humanity’s existence on this planet, but with no pretension or preachiness at all, while on a moment-to-moment basis it’s a human comedy dominated by personal foibles and people just trying to get by in life. It’s also a science-fiction film that not for a second looks or feels like one.
“As such, this is a unique undertaking, one centered on an unexceptional Everyman character who unwittingly embarks upon an exceptional life journey; in that sense, Matt Damon’s Paul Safranek is like the hero of a Frank Capra or Preston Sturges film of 75 years ago, an ordinary man who has a certain sort of greatness thrust upon him. At the same time, the movie is a highly sophisticated creation that, due to its off-hand, underplayed presentation of the future, essentially seems to be taking place in the present day.
“The film had to be flawless from a technical point of view to be convincing, and so it is. The perspectives involving full-sized and miniaturized humans together in the same frame always look just right, and the straightforward presentation of the new mixed world, with big and small co-existing, is handled in an off-hand manner that makes it instantly acceptable. As usual, Payne and his longtime writing partner Jim Taylor inject droll humor whenever possible, which helps keep the human story vibrant within the futuristic technical framework.”
Matt Damon, Jason Sudekis in Alexander Payne’s Downsizing.