BFI Patrons’ Gala


Smaller doesn’t mean simpler, as Alexander Payne points out in this hilarious satire that manages to keep the laugh rate high while engaging with a wealth of topical issues.


Dir Alexander Payne
Prod Mark Johnson, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Scr Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
With Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig
UK Distribution Paramount Pictures International

Alexander Payne (Nebraska, LFF2014) puts climate change, mobility and immigration under the microscope in this utterly bewitching satire starring Matt Damon. In a future that could very well be right now, Norwegian scientists discover a method for shrinking people to pocket-size as part of a grand design to limit humanity’s footprint and save the world. Five years later, a thriving parallel ‘small’ economy has evolved, complete with lifestyle choices and luxury miniature communities. Beige, work-a-day Paul Safranek (Damon) wants to scale-up his options by sizing-down, but things begin to go awry when wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) gets cold feet. Payne and regular collaborator Jim Taylor started work on Downsizing’s wildly inventive screenplay between the making of Sideways (LFF2004) and The Descendants (LFF2011), and this lengthy gestation has seen its underlying topicality become even more urgent and relevant. Immediately shedding its sci-fi skin – just as its protagonists must discard hair and teeth to become small – this is precision, high-concept filmmaking that ripples with wry observational humour and seamlessly integrates its visual effects. Damon, superb as the bewildered everyman, is supported by an appropriately florid Christoph Waltz and a captivating Hong Chau, playing an illegal immigrant who arrives in a parcel.

Clare Stewart