Imagine there was a way to make people smaller, physically. It would solve so many problems. Houses would be smaller, fewer resources would be used and think of how good it would be for the planet! A brilliant solution. Too bad it is fantasy. That’s why it is fun to watch the film Downsizing. They can shrink you down to 5 inches and if they could do that, I’d live in a dollhouse. The film actually imagines there would be complete small cities to live in, for those who want to get downsized.
SF as social commentary
Oh dear. Difficult header titel. This film is science fiction, of course. Because there is no technology to shrink people, or anything living for that matter. This is a classic question of ‘What if…?’. Downsizing also looks at a problem that is huge in The Netherlands right now. We are a small country, very little space, and we have a massive shortage of housing. We also have too many cows and pigs. The solution that Downsizing had seems ideal. Becauseif this was real, we’d all live in the mansions of our dreams. We’d get everthing we could ever want as a tiny 12cm high person. Just think of the tiny little laundry loads you’d need to do! Smaller people would get a better life than the ones in the ‘big world’. Yay!
Downsizing is a film about a fantasy technology to reduce people in size.
Hold on, though. Maybe you are thinking this is an optimistic fun film about how we can solve all of our problems. No, of course not. Because even if you shrink people, we’re still people, right. In the ideal Utopian world, with the grandest mansions, there will always be people who want more than what others have. In the end – spoiler – that is the problem we have to solve in the real world. There, that says it all. However …
Funny film with little scifi and also few jokes
I do think the film is funny. But it does get less funny as the tone gets a bit darker. I don’t mind that. And even if the starting point is pure science fiction, there are very few science fiction elements. And I don’t mind that either, really. I think all of that makes this film suitable for a broader audience. You just need to suspend your disbelief and be prepared to believe this could happen. And you should ask yourself what you would do with this option: would you shrink yourself? (And would you also shrink your dog or cat? Because if that was not an option, I would not do it.)
The change from ha-ha-funny to hmmm-funny starts at the beginning. People do get shrunk because they want a better life, materialistically, than they can afford in the big world. Larger house, luxury stuff, more food drink – you can fill a glass of champagne easier if it is small. But then you see that there are limitations in the small world too. When the main character finds out there is poverty there too, he has a choice. Will he help people or will he choose for his own comfort … just like in the real worl. Hmmm-funny.
Hopeful or not
Even though there are negative sides to the film’s story, I still felt positive after watching it. Maybe because I really do fancy living in a dollhouse. Or maybe because I somehow still believe people will pick helping each other when faced with a choice.
Downsizing does not have a very high IMDb rating. I do understand why. The trailers were a misrepresantation of the story. It’s not an outright comedy and it is not an action scifi film. So people may have had different expectations. Still, I’d recomment watching this film. Whether you like science fiction or drama or dark humor. Hopefully you will feel hopeful after this film as well.
(I don’t actually remember if the film establishes you can shrink your pets. But that’s a must! Otherwise my cat would think I a a tasty bit of prey!)