TIFF 2017: Matt Damon Joins The World Of The Small In Downsizing


Who’s Behind It

Election writer/director Alexander Payne, with scripting assistance from his frequent collaborator Jim Taylor (Sideways, About Schmidt).

Who’s In It

Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Who’ll Love It

Sci fi/comedy lovers who like a side of social commentary with their entertainment.

What’s It About

Imagine how much less of a burden humanity would be on the Earth, how much our consumption of natural resources would decrease if only we were smaller—conversely, imagine how much more stuff we could have!

Not, like, a foot shorter though. More like five feet shorter, plus another seven inches or so. In Downsizing, Norwegian scientists have come up with a way to safely shrink people down to Barbie-doll size (maintaining our regular proportions, however—sorry) with the goal of saving the environment. But like with any new technology there are those who seek to exploit and abuse it. Most people shrink themselves not to help the planet, but to be able to live in tiny, affordable McMansions, sign up for swanky health club memberships, and afford doll-sized designer clothes. Others use it to shrink people against their will (think corrupt governments downsizing political dissidents). When Damon’s character decides to join the world of the small, it doesn’t exactly go the way he planned—and continues to head in one unexpected direction after another, thanks, in part to his eccentric neighbour (Waltz).

Why You Should See It

Refreshingly, Payne is known for his intelligent and original comedies. This is no Honey, I Shrunk the Kids recycling project. Downsizing gets serious credit for offering something new to the sci fi genre. It’s social satire plus geopolitical commentary with a skewering of the disenfranchised middle class on the side. A full-sized occupational therapist who can’t afford to upgrade to a bigger house almost becomes self-aware when he finally comes face to face with a class of people who have it way worse than he does—even in the utopia that the small world is designed to be (who’s going to clean your micro estate or drive the minibus, after all?).

Downsizing isn’t perfect. The plot slows down and gets a bit clunky in the third act but Damon, doing his best average suburban nice guy act, and Waltz, doing that classic Euro-creep thing he does so flawlessly, keep the film afloat—unlike the melting icebergs that will one day kill us all.

When You Can See It

Monday, September 11 at 6PM (Elgin); Tuesday, September 12 at 11:30AM (Elgin); Wednesday, September 13 at 6PM (Princess of Wales); Saturday, September 16 at 12PM (Roy Thomson Hall). Tickets available here. Opens in wide release on December 22. Check out the trailer below.