109 Min. | Drama – Romance | December 2009
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Jason Reitman
Staring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
Up in the Air Review: Anyone who has ever been fired must see “Up In The Air.” Jason Reitman has done again. The director of “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno” puts real life out there in an incredible way, where we all laugh and then walk out of the theatre thinking about what is really important. A film with a message that’s entertaining, what a concept. George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man that flies all over the country firing people for companies that don’t have the spine to do it themselves. He is so proficient at it, when he meets his “expert traveler” equivalent, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), he is emotionally drawn to another person, beyond a passing interest, for the first time. Bingham’s travels are a quest to be a traveling legend. When his company takes the advice of young newbie, Natalie Keener (Kendrick), he is grounded, endangering his quest to achieve frequent flier miles that number in the, uh, stratosphere.
When his boss (Jason Bateman) assigns him to “show her the ropes,” so she can revolutionize the company’s firing technology, the resulting road trip is not only riotously funny, it is a self-exploring journey into the three people’s strengths and weaknesses. The life decisions they make are the emotionally important message of Up in the Air. The rest of the story must go untold, so you can savor every morsel from your own perspective. For that is what Up in the Air does best. Almost all of us have been canned. Sitting across the table, being told we’ll be glad it happened, one day. Our participation in the film is subtle, as we sit across the table from Bingham as he cans us. The film’s cast is like the story, they suck you in. Clooney is Clooney, like Cary Grant was Cary Grant. You think he’s not acting, that’s just who he is in real life. Maybe it is.
Vera Farmiga’s performance is seductively natural. You’ve met people like her. You admire her. Then you find out you don’t know her at all. She is the mystery you wish you were. Anna Kendrick as Natalie is a perfect, perky, know-it-all that becomes all too human. Kendrick makes her character’s transformation special parts of the film, when she could have easily have been regulated to a supporting character. This has become Reitman’s trademark as a director. He empowers actors to make the movie their own. Up In The Air is a movie that is over before you want it to be. You want to get to know the characters better, to follow them around a little longer and make sure everything goes well for them. Another credit to Reitman for his extraordinary skill at taking the common things in life and make them extraordinary. Which makes us all feel better about the common-ness of our own lives.