Up in the Air was one of the ten movies I wanted to see last year but for whatever reason could not get around to seeing. Last night, I finally caught the latest film from Jason Reitman. Reitman has struck two out of the park in Juno and Thank You For Smoking. He hits another home run here with Up in the Air. That’s all the baseball clichés I can muster at this time but I was just awestruck by this film.
The ever prolific George Clooney is absolutely astounding as Ryan Bingham. Clooney is known for his cool-guy roles that never crack or truly show signs of doubt. All of that is thrown out of the window as we see Clooney play the most vulnerable character I’ve ever seen him play. Bingham works for a company that is hired on by other companies to let their employees go. Bingham has become a master in the art of firing and controlling the varied reactions of the unfortunate souls he must ferry onward. His work causes him to travel nearly every day of the year. His is a nomadic life, and one that he enjoys. He doesn’t have any real deep connections to anyone. As all things, that changes.
Enter the lovely Alex (played by Vera Farmiga). She is the female counterpart to Ryan. She too tries to rack up sky miles and rewards points. A match made in heaven. I won’t get into anything else plot wise because I refuse to spoil this gem.
Up in the Air is a trying movie emotionally considering the times we live in. The movie perfectly captures the horrendous reality of America. Corporations are throwing people by the wayside to save themselves as entities. The people Ryan fire aren’t necessarily bad employees, they are just unlucky. The reactions of the people are incredibly believable. Everything from sorrow, to anger, to outrage, to fear, is expressed in the scenes where Ryan or his young charge Natalie (the gorgeous Anna Kendrick) are difficult and raw. Reitman does a deft job with this. It could have been easy to get all preachy about the raw cruelty of American business but Reitman just lets people be people.
Clooney is at his most real here. His facial expressions and body language perfectly portray a man who is beginning to realize how fleeting life is and how important human contact truly is. To be surrounded by people in airports and planes does not mean that he is a part of anything truly special. Up in the Air is a reminder that no matter how hard things get, the fact is that in our lives we encounter people that we come to rely on to pull us through. Our friends, our family, our lovers, all are important to keeping us grounded and sane. There is so much to discuss from this movie I cannot even really get all my thoughts in order. Also, I wanted to add a visual element to this review so here is a poster:
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