‘Downsizing:’ Solution or Selfishness

Overpopulation has been an issue in the real world for decades, and it’s only continuing to grow, and why would there be an end in sight? Human nature allows us to grow, and isn’t that the point of all of this, to procreate and make sure that our species stays alive?

But to what extent, and at what cost?

This brings me to my real point: as I watched Downsizing, all I could think about was whether or not this could become a reality. More and more, locales the world over, are running out of resources ranging from water to oil.

Downsizing introduces us to Norwegian scientists, Jorgen Asbjornsen (Rolf Lassgård) and Andreas Jacobsen (Søren Pilmark) who have been working for five years to find a way to solve one of the human race’s biggest issues, overpopulation and the waste that is degrading the earth. With resources diminishing, and after five years of trials on certain test subjects, the two scientists come up with something called “cellular reduction,” where humans opt-in to being reduced to 0.364% of their normal size in the hopes of creating less waste and living an overall better life financially.


This, of course, appeals to those people who are struggling with money. People like Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig). They’ve been living in the same house that Paul grew up in, and are desperate to do whatever they can to move out and in to their own home. They want to start a family and live their new life together, but their mortgage application bounces back due to their crippling debt-income ratios. Paul wants to do whatever he can to make Audrey happy, so they travel to New Mexico to look into being Downsized. They learn that not only could they live comfortably, but they wouldn’t have to work another day for the rest of their lives.

Where do I sign up?

There is a quote in the film that really resonates: “Nobody really gets small to save the planet, they get small to have the things they didn’t have when they were big”.  This was spoken by Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz), Paul’s upstairs neighbor in Leisureland, the community where the downsized live.


These words opened my eyes to what it is about this film that could make this story line a reality. The fact is that our human race is a selfish one, and no amount of money is ever enough for us. Money, in itself, makes people do crazy outlandish things in order for us to be able to get whatever we want.

(Spoilers ahead)

Paul’s wife ends up backing out at the last minute, for fear of leaving her life, family, and friends behind. It seems as though, initially, Paul considers being downsized only so he can give his wife everything she’s ever dreamed of. At first, he calls being small the biggest mistake he’s ever made. Eventually, after meeting Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), he begins to see all of the good things she does. There are people that, even after being downsized, still live a life of poverty. Those are the people that she dedicates all of her time to helping. After spending time with her, Paul starts to genuinely see what it means to be human again. 

It is also said in the film “the earth will purge itself of human life.” almost as if the way that we treat our planet is precisely what will inevitably be our downfall.  The arts are often used, as an outlet, to send a message about human issues, among other things. For me, that’s exactly the impact this film made.

If given the opportunity to take just over $100,000 and turn it into $12 Million, would you do it? More so, would you do it for the right reasons?