A 6 seasons TV show cramped to a 2 hours film. So many things to explore from the material. This is why Payne seems confused to decide to one story and ultimately just let the film wanders through everything. Not a complain, only an observation.
Though marketed as a comedy, Payne's latest is more social satire that misses more than it connects resulting in a rare misfire for the director. The initial premise is interesting as is some of the supporting casting but interest is lost along the way as the film becomes more tiresome in its pathos and mishandled 'romance'.
Aside from being consistently (offhandedly) funny and that odd (endearing) Alexander Payne kind of earnest, DOWNSIZING serves as a well-illustrated reminder that substantive change for the most part can only come w/ radical shifts in scale and perspective. Harsh reminder: there will never be a political economy from which inequality is subtracted. Loved her in INHERENT VICE, but Hong Chau is stupefyingly great here.
Of all the directors to take a top-tier concept and actually subvert it into something lesser than what even the allegedly lamest ideas suggests, Alexander Payne would've been the one I'd least expect. Some truly brilliant satirical ideas and "Pleasantville"-esque parallels is squandered for a treacly story of immigration and environmentalism that throws the premise off so gravely you forget the initial concept.
Payne is an incredible filmmaker and here he really swung for the fences. Downsizing is as its core a humanist, Walt Whitman-esque narrative, a film with an unyielding love for the people it portrays. Unfortunately, it's also a mess, completely devoid of a north star or some semblance of cohesion. It could have been Payne's masterpiece, but it'll go down in history as a beautiful 'what if'.
Sunk by its own earnestness. Payne's latest film had so much potential, but - aside from the insufferable, condescending representation of the Vietnamese character and the stereotypical portrait of the Scandi commune - Downsizing implodes in the third act. The issues are macro, but the direction is truly micro. Size matters and, no, it is not just a matter of perspective.