A comedy, drama film directed by Alexander Payne Discuss this article

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“I am big – it’s the pictures that got small,” Hollywood’s Norma Desmond spits out in Sunset Boulevard. Now, Sideways director Alexander Payne has found a way to make both the stars and the pictures small. Downsizing is a self-satisfied sci-fi nothingburger that shies away from its early suggestiveness and goes as deep as an average Black Mirror.

Miniaturisation – shrinking yourself down to enjoy a dawning new economy for the “community of the small” – may be the way of the future in an equity-poor world (it is here for married couple Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig), in which one can finally afford a McMansion or diamond earrings provided they’re roughly two-thousandths of the typical size. But the vicious satire you have in your head about diorama-dwelling haves versus huge have-nots never materialises. Downsizing your expectations will help.

Payne still loves skewering middle-brow banality and the strengths of Downsizing echo some of the Borscht Belt gags of Woody Allen’s wryly anti-future Sleeper. As a medium-grade satire (hardly another The Truman Show), it works fine enough. But it makes a series of wrong moves that throw off the tone, raising the pretension levels to toxic and leaving it gazing at its own minuscule navel.

The bottom line
A poor show, given it’s from Alexander Payne.

By Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out Abu Dhabi,


  • Duration: 135
  • Released: Thu, 18 Jan
  • Language: English
  • Director: Alexander Payne
  • Stars: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau

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