Up In The Air is a film adaptation of Walter Kirn’s 2001 novel of the same title, directed by Jason Reitman.
In the film Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is an ‘outsourced’ intermediary between an employee and the company that is letting them go. He smooth talks people into believing that being fired might just be the best thing that ever happened to them, making the painful exit bearable and ‘dignified’. Personally, Ryan’s life is an empty one, claiming in the film’s opening narrative that he calls the airport and airplanes his home, and never made an effort to marry and start a family of his own. This starts to change when he meets Alex (Vera Farmiga) on one of his trips and starts a casual relationship. The story develops and Ryan accepts the fact that he might just give Alex a chance to be someone in his life. He takes the first step and ditches an important speaking engagement to show up in her front porch. What happened next is the defining moment that was over before it began.
This film was surprisingly enjoyable. Although I can never relate to any of the characters, they do remind me of some people I know. I appreciate that the film touched on the recession that has plagued America for the past few years. I loved the back-to-back shots of different employees reacting to their demise — the variety and levels of denial is something you can either relate to or feel for. Anyone who’s ever been fired can relate to any of these. Clooney was perfect for the role, being able to pull off that knowing smirk and smugness the character so often displays. Vera Farmiga who played Alex was ruthless in her anti-climactic lines. And let’s not forget the backless scene with the tie around her waist. Anna Kendrick, who played Bingham’s apprentice Natalie Keenan, was convincing as the idealistic achiever type that you just feel an immediate aversion toward her if you’re 30 years old and above.
Other than the movie sometimes looks too much like a TV ad or music video due to the heavy incorporation of full songs in the scenes, the editing was successful in taking the ‘boring’ factor out of the equation. It was easily managed with significant side stories and quick humor. I had a blast seeing Clooney frown on being called ‘old’ by Kendrick’s character, or attempting to do a robot dance and failing miserably, or convincing his future brother-in-law that marriage is a good thing to do. There were enough moments that amused me along the way. Having had previous experience for an airline, I understood the jargon and thought it played well in the story, up until the very end.
To sum up what the movie is about, I’ll be quoting Reitman: “”The movie is about the examination of a philosophy. What if you decided to live hub to hub, with nothing, with nobody?”
To watch this film online, click here.