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In the Dark

Lilliputian Fantasies

Downsizing
Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures 
Directed by Alexander Payne 
Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor 

I’m late commenting on Alexander Payne’s Downsizing for the simple reason that the film became all but unavailable within what seemed a couple of weeks of its opening in December 2017.  It had disappeared from theaters and had yet to be marketed in either DVD or online streaming formats.  Recently, however, it became available on iTunes, so I got my chance to watch it.  Payne has become a go-to director for me.  In a time when few filmmakers work in satire, he’s assumed the mantle handed down by Preston Sturges.  Naturally, I wanted to see his latest offering.

Downsizing, despite an intriguing premise and first-tier actors, didn’t find an enthusiastic welcome among American filmgoers.  It did much better overseas.  By not subscribing to the usual conventions of either science fiction or romantic films, Payne had risked confusing his audience, and this seems to be what happened.  This is a shame.  While the film may not be as successful as Payne’s other satires—Citizen Ruth and Election come especially to mind—it’s definitely worth watching for what it says about today’s smarmy America.

The...

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