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What begins as a curious sci-fi fantasy about a futuristic technology people can use to shrink themselves (thereby dramatically reducing the toll they take on the environment) becomes a deeply humane, faith-tinged drama once a Midwestern suburbanite (Matt Damon) who has chosen to "go small" crosses paths with a Vietnamese refugee (Hong Chau in a powerful performance) who, as a political prisoner in her native country, was forcibly subjected to the process. Damon's character has his own sense of vulnerability since he was betrayed by his ex-wife (Kristen Wiig) and fleeced in their divorce settlement. So he is ripe for the transformation of his materialistic values initiated when his cynical, party-loving neighbor (Christoph Waltz) becomes the unwitting agent of change in his life by bringing him into contact with the devout, charity-focused immigrant. Though unsuitable for youngsters, director and co-writer Alexander Payne's film will stimulate reflection among those of their elders not put off by incidental sights and some strong vocabulary in the script he penned with Jim Taylor.

Watch out for: Full nudity in a medical context, off-screen premarital sexual activity, acceptability of divorce, drug use, a few uses of profanity, frequent rough and occasional crude and crass language.

Rated: A-III, adults; MPAA: R

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018