Alexander Payne Talks His Secret “Downsizing”

One of the Fall’s most secretive films is the return of Oscar-winning director Alexander Payne with his quirky but ambitious sci-fi dramedy “Downsizing”.

Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Laura Dern star in the film which is set in an overpopulated world in which Norwegian scientists can shrink humans to a pocket size five inches tall as part of a master plan to minimize all of mankind over the course of three centuries.

For one couple, the prospect is enticing but at the last minute one of this steadfast pair backs out of the deal. Describing the project to EW, which just released the first photo from it above, Payne calls it “Black Mirror by way of Robert Altman” and says while it touches on issues of immigration and the environment, it’s not really political:

“It takes something inherently absurd, but tells it with utter earnestness. I don’t want it to sound too much like a political movie. We’re more interested in making human films. Humans are involved in politics, so we thought this story was an interesting prism through which to view our times.”

The film has been in development for a long time, in fact part of the reason why there was a long gap between Payne’s “Sideways” and “The Descendants” was due to work on the screenplay for this and difficulty getting the financing. The same thing happened to Payne years before with “About Schmidt”.

Unlike ‘Schmidt’, this film boasts a significant visual effects budget which is part of the complication and Payne says he’s been told several times before that the film is “too intelligent to justify the budget it requires”.

“Downsizing” opens in cinemas on December 22nd.