Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne (Sideways) goes high concept for this bold dramedy centred on an amusing solution to Earth's overpopulation problem.

In the contemporary world portrayed in Downsizing, Norwegian scientists discover a method for safely shrinking humans down to the size of a Star Wars figure, thus dramatically reducing their ecological footprint and increasing the (relative) value of their economic resources.

As the technology becomes mainstream, "micrommunities" start to appear around the globe, offering a new life for the little.

Paul and Audrey Safranek, a middle-class Omaha couple portrayed by Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, decide to join the growing number of people embracing the concept of downsizing. But when Audrey suddenly decides against it, after Paul undergoes the irreversible process, he is cast adrift in his new home and struggles to adjust to life as a tiny person.

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There is a huge amount to admire in Downsizing – for one thing, it's extremely refreshing to see a special effects-heavy film that isn't a sci-fi/fantasy blockbuster trying to appeal to the whole family. The flawless effects are incredibly charming, and plenty of visual humour is derived from the size-centric juxtapositions presented.

Damon's luggish affability keeps you invested in Paul's plight, but as entertaining and visually inspired as Downsizing is throughout, it starts to run out of narrative steam just when it should be ramping up. Payne's dramatic goals are out of focus as the film enters its third act, and an ultimate message never quite coalesces, undermining the enterprise somewhat.

Stars:

Kristen Wiig, Matt Damon

Director:

Alexander Payne

Running time:

135 minutes

Rating:

M (Drug use, offensive language & nudity)

Verdict:

Visually delightful, narratively underwhelming.