Up in the Air Reviews
IMO, Up in the air is best among Jason Reitman movie, and best movie of year 2009 in my personal list.
Astutely adapted from Walter Kim's 2001 novel, the wonderfully topical and artfully crafted script richly echoes and punctuates the cruel human cost to the current economic climate. Sprinkling candid real-life testimonials of recession victims amongst a barrage of highly memorable sharp one-liners the magic of this smart, silky and sensitive film is its sense of classic old-Hollywood style.
Playfully edited and with breezy visuals this movie soars, producing the kind of polished vehicle that will, in all likeliness, make a clear sweep come Oscar season. Finally making it clear to see where his movie star aura ends and his true acting ability begins; George Clooney delivers an impeccable performance with genuine gravity.
"To know me is to fly with me. This is where I live."
Ryan Bingham (Clooney) a corporate downsizing specialist has his life just how he likes it. Accustomed to the efficiency and artificial friendliness of executive travel his cosily callous obsessive compulsive life of perpetual motion is a philosophical world filled with ritualistic packing, personalised automated check-ins and anonymous business class pampering.
Flitting from flyover Midwest City to City in pursuit of his personal goal to be only the 7th person to reach 10 million frequent flier miles, Brigham spends a total of 322 days travelling, merely tolerating the "43 miserable days at home" in his clinical Omaha apartment.
Thriving on the chaos of recession, Bingham business is to act as a silver-tongued hatchet man for bosses too gutless to fire there own employees.
Describing himself as a career transition counsellor, playing both executioner and therapist, Ryan believes he carries out this sad ritual of dismissal with a certain class, performing the brutal process in a way that "makes limbo tolerable" offering a positive spin.
Minimising the trauma, Bingham bestows redundant employees with the wisdom that "anyone who has ever done anything great, has been where you are now". Believing that if they embrace his self-serving wisdoms and motivational seminar analogy of a life without the backpack of personal baggage, their lives will be happier and simpler, just like his.
Sharing in his footloose and fancy-free, no-strings delusions, Bingham meets a similarly baggage-liberated frequent flier, the beguiling Alex (Vera Farmiga).
"Imagine me as you, but with a vagina" states the fellow cynic turned on by the elite status and etiquette of professional travel. The two, content to be casual, make dates around flight schedules in a tailor-made obligation-free affair.
However, when his unscrupulously cutthroat boss (Jason Bateman) is advised that dismissals made via webcam will save money and threatens to ground him on the tarmac, Bingham fights to stay in the air.
Agreeing to take fresh-faced efficiency whizz and smug idealist, Natalie (Anna Kendrick) on an eye-opening journey into his real world of firing, her na´ve concepts become less plausible and her overly confident personal resolve is fiercely shaken.
Meanwhile, Bingham's own carefully crafted immaculate GQ veneer and suave nonchalance begins to flail as he softens to the new world and women around him. Realising his emotionless control might just be an act, would his life in fact be richer with more than just his carry on?
Standing strong against Clooney's consuming on-screen charisma, Kendrick adds a wonderful core of touching insecurity to her prissy and light character, whilst Farmiga's lived-in-beauty is a classy delight. With fun cameo from Sam Elliot and an earnest appearance from J.K. Simmons, the acting is a very close second to the script.
The Verdict: Intelligent, eloquent and vulnerable, this film bucks Hollywood convention truthfully exhibiting flaws without apprehension. The sentiment that sometimes we need to drift freely for a while in order to find ourselves again is often sidelined for a neatly packaged happy ending. It's nice to see again that life isn't always that simple.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 22/01/2010