I wish this was better. I wouldn’t say I had high hopes, but I had medium hopes. I expected it to be average, and it couldn’t even manage that. The trailer intrigued me and when I saw mediocre reviews I assumed them to be wrong, kind of like Surburbicon last year. But throughout the film, I just felt that whenever the story was faced with multiple options it always picked the most boring one, kind of like Surburbicon. Multiple interesting side stories were swept to the side just to continue the story of Matt Damon, just like, well you get the idea.
Ironically, considering the subject matter, this film really needed to be cut down. It’s over two hours long and you feel every single second. I’d estimate the first hour or so can be cut down into about ten minutes. We don’t need the complete history of the scientific process involved. We also don’t need him to have a dying mother (who dies off screen after one scene and is NEVER mentioned again). You don’t need them going house-hunting or to a sales pitch for the process. You just need to set up that he’s bored as hell and is looking to change his life. Speaking of characters who just disappear (which I was, like a few minutes ago, not just now, but relatively recently), his wife. With the exception of her divorce leaving him with no money, her deciding to not get shrunk has almost no impact on the story and shows another missed opportunity. The film occasionally shows how people who haven’t got the procedure are acting slightly hostile towards those that do, saying they shouldn’t be able to vote as they’re not proper people etc. It does this for the opening, then again, never does it again. They could have had that play into the divorce settlement, have it so the court finds her more important because she’s an actual person and he’s not. But nope, they just show it as him signing a form and then he’s poor.
It isn’t completely without merit though. Hong Chau is amazing. Her performance is utterly heartbreaking. Actually, if the film was focused on her character from the start it would be A LOT better. She plays a Vietnamese activist who was shrunk against her will by the government and tried to escape to the US. But everybody she travelled with died and she lost her leg, leaving her in a lot of pain and having to work a menial job just to survive whilst essentially looking after an entire apartment complex of people; bringing them food etc so they can survive. She then meets a guy who can help her and they fall in love. It’s a very sweet story, but we see the dullest half of it. Think about it, her story contains a lot of political and social satire about the way the western world goes after other countries for the way it treats people, and then exploits those same people. It has basically everything you want from a story, so why wasn’t that one made?
Christoph Waltz seems to be having a lot of fun too, but then again he seems like that in most films. Every film I’ve seen him in he looks like he’s just having a blast making it, even when the film is terrible. Udo Keir, too, plays his role wonderfully, all the while looking like a mid-table Premier League manager who’s about to spend £40million on Andy Carroll.
So in summary; as much as I don’t want to say this I would not recommend this film. Possibly the film I’ve enjoyed least at the cinema so far this year. The one highlight is Hong Chau’s performance, nothing else in the film makes it worth watching.