If our planet is running out of resources maybe if we just made ourselves smaller, a lot smaller, we would need less stuff and generate less waste?
That is the premise of director Alexander Payne’s film starring Matt Damon with Kristen Wiig as his screen wife. “Paul and Audrey Safranek” are struggling financially and they can’t help notice a growing trend of people “getting small”. Using technology developed by Dr Jorgen Asbjornsen (Rolf Lassgård), those crazy clever Norwegians have all the cool gadgets and stuff.
Making the choice to “go small” is a big deal, there is no turning back and whilst being 5 inches tall has many advantages, your money goes further for one, there are ironically enough, some downsides.
Paul and Audrey decide to take the plunge but the path of true love and marriage vows do not always go according to plan and Paul finds himself somewhat adrift.
Whilst meeting his charismatic although slightly eccentric neighbor “Dusan Mirkovic” (Christoph Waltz), he also encounters someone far less fortunate than his own straitened circumstances.
“Ngoc Lan Tran” (Hong Chau) is a cleaner with a past and physical challenges to overcome. Paul get’s involved in helping which opens a door into a life, he was not even aware of.
So the the premise and initial set up is good, a decent budget and fine actors, especially a Oscar nominated turn from Chau, so what went wrong?
Too many ideas, far too many. If the director and screenwriter had been content with what they originally envisaged, this could have been an interesting meditation on life, environmental concerns and white privilege.
Unfortunately, not even these weighty concerns were sufficient to tackle, with the film meandering into odd end of the world territory, completely unbalancing everything that comes before, which is a major disappointment.
Damon is reliable but increasingly obviously miscast in this film, appearing to flounder in a role that increasingly makes no logical sense. Chau is great but wasted in this story and Waltz continues to show evidence he may just be a one trick pony after all, with little variation in his usual persona.
The film also contains non-sexual nudity seemingly for no reason, which also limits the audience, especially in the prudish States. Obtaining a dreaded “R” rating, which seems a very odd directorial choice.
Overall a game of two halves.
Ultimately a disappointing film which squanders the early promise and ideas. Turning into a meandering mess, which will frustrate audience members who stay to the bitter end.