Presenting life after employment in a positive light is the equalivent of giving everyone a pair of rose-colored glasses. Up In The Air, which stars George Clooney as a man who fires people, is about a man who through his own charm makes everything, including his own job, as smooth as silk.
I initially on the premise alone didn’t want to bother with such a film, or such a character. After having overdosed on the world of Avatar, I needed a movie to bring me back down to earth. Up In The Air, despite it’s rather depressing premise, is an humbling experience.
The basics of the Jason Reitman directed film is that Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, is a large expense to the company that pays for his ability to be a fly boy and fire people. Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman) is looking to cut the travel costs by instituting an Internet style way of firing people via computers that is developed by a newcomer, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). Because Natalie doesn’t know anything about the actual job of firing people, Gregory assigns Ryan the duty of shadowing Natalie to learn how it’s done.
While traveling around to fire more people, Ryan engages an occasional tryst with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who like Ryan is a frequent flyer and also is a believer in Bingham’s no strings attached philosophy of life. As the two go about having their fun, Bingham starts to become drawn to her and eventually to the concept of having a monogamous relationship. It’s a such a beautiful film in the way it takes a dark subject matter and is able to make you understand it’s world and it’s thinking without creating repulsion.
George Clooney gives one of those complicated performances where you don’t really like him, but you can’t help but watch him. His character is a sleaze ball who really is all surface in the way he deals with people. The further you get into the film however, the more you understand why he lives the way he does.
Vera Farmiga’s performance is also good. Her character, who fits nicely along side Clooney’s, is almost a female reflection of the very philosophies he educates to people. It would be nice for me to reveal just where they separate, but that would be spoiling the film.
Anna Kendrick’s performance as the smart but uptight Natalie Keener is noteworthy, although part of the way through the film she kinda disappears into the background. She does serve a purpose in the film when next to Clooney’s character as she forces him in some way to see other people, rather than see past them.
I thought Jason Reitman, who is the son of Ivan Reitman (who directed Ghostbusters) did a good job for his latest outing. I had no idea that he directed Juno, which is another film I enjoyed.
If you’ve been overdosed on the wonderful fantasy that is Avatar and need a good film to detox from it, Up In The Air is good for that. It’s subject matter, while rather sad in certain places, is a far much more enjoyable sadness than other films of it’s ilk.