|Matt Damon and George Clooney will be among the A-listers descending on Venice. — AFP Photo|Viet Nam News
VENICE — The 74th Venice film festival gets underway Wednesday with Alexander Payne’s sci-fi satire "Downsizing" in the high-profile opening slot that is increasingly coveted as a launchpad for the Oscars.
Starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, Sideways director Payne’s latest quirky creation is a tale of a lower middle class couple in the US midwest.
But the downsizing of the title is not a reference to job losses or selling off the family house: instead the pair are considering signing up for radical new surgery that would allow them to be shrunk to tiny versions of themselves, on the promise of a better life.
Written by Payne, a two-time Oscar winner for his screenplays, and Jim Taylor, the film will be seeking to emulate the success of La La Land, Birdman and Gravity, all Venice openers in recent years which went on to bag a bunch of Academy Awards and other prizes.
Whether it does is likely to depend on how critics react to the film’s intriguing plot, which Variety described as "Honey I Shrunk the Kids with a deeper social message".
Also being unveiled on the opening day is Nico, a bio-pic focusing on the final years of the Velvet Underground singer and Andy Warhol muse which is being shown in the festival’s Horizons section dedicated to cutting-edge productions.
Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli, with Danish actress Trine Dryholm in the lead role, the story catches up with one of 1970s New York’s iconic figures in 1987 and 1988, the last two years of her life.
It finds her battling a heroin habit but also finding fulfilment through her music and her relationship with her son. — AFP