Monday, December 25, 2017


Downsizing, Alexander Payne’s vision of a miniaturized future  truly conforms to the definition of the word Utopia, meaning nowhere. On the other hand, despite the improbability of the idea, it’s hard not to take this Noah’s Ark view of the human condition seriously. What would happen if one were able to shrink mankind and its demands on the planet? One can't also help note that downsizing is what troubled firms do when they need to layoff workers. An interesting theme that appears twice in the film is not being able to turn back. It occurs first in the filmmaker’s conceit. Anyone who consents to living a smaller life which means ending up with .064% of their mass can’t decide to return to their original stature. Later it occurs when a new threat to mankind from methane poses an even more imminent danger and the Norwegian community which is the prototype for the experiment decides to uproot itself to a biosphere under the earth’s crust. But isn’t this in itself all a metaphor for climate change, which is always talked about as being irreversible? Downsizing also presents its own kind of narrative irreversibility. As a satire it eventually spreads its wings, turning into a romance that retroactively kills the initial comic energy. Orpheus as you may recall is cautioned never to turn back or he’ll lose his beloved Eurydice to the underworld forever. At the end of Downsizing Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), Payne’s beleaguered protagonist, does look back and where he lands is a world very similar to the one he left at the beginning of the film, as a resident of Omaha, trying to make ends meet.

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