Matt Damon Gets Microscopic In His Latest Sci-Fi ‘Masterpiece’ Downsizing


Paramount Pictures

Writer-director Alexander Payne is known for delivering subtle, humane comedies like About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants, but his latest movie is something of a departure.

Set in a futuristic world where people can be irreversibly shrunk down to a fraction of their size—increasing the value of their savings and minimizing their environmental footprint—Downsizing brings Payne’s sensibilities into the world of science fiction.

Like Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Downsizing has been a long-running obsession for its director (and his fans), slowly evolving over many years as he has worked on other projects. However, the film is finally finished and the teaser is here to offer an appropriately tiny taste of Payne’s latest.

While most viewers will have to wait until December to experience Downsizing, the film had its world premiere earlier today at the Venice Film Festival.

Thus far, the reviews have been somewhere between positive and ecstatic. The Guardian’s Xan Brooks wrote a five-star review, hailing the film as a “masterpiece” (in the headline anyway). “What a spry, nuanced, winningly digressive movie this is,” he writes. “No sooner I had it pegged as a jaunty black comedy than it starts folding in elements of dystopian sci-fi, or compassionate human drama. A less polished director might have become lost and confused along the film’s lengthy running time. But Payne’s handling is perfect. He never puts a foot wrong, rustling up a picture that is as bright as a button and as sharp as a tack. Downsizing contains multitudes. Inside it’s a giant.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy is similarly impressed. “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,” he explains, referring to the film’s take on climate change. “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.”

Downsizing arrives in theatres on December 22, but Canadians will have several chances to see the film early when it screens next month at the Toronto International Film Festival.