Friday, January 29, 2010

Film Review - Up in the Air

Film #9 of 2010 - Up in the Air

Jason Reitman, director of Up in the Air has made three films in a row that deal with different subject matters (relationships, politics) but all three have at least one thing in common: they are all really, really good.

I loved the premise of Up in the Air: corporate hatchet man Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a man who travels among thousands daily, yet lives a life of complete solitude. The 1/3 of the year he isn't traveling is spent in a sparsely furnished apartment in Omaha, NE, where he feels an oppressive weight every day he's not jetting off somewhere else. His life in the air is a science; it's his life on the ground that he can't cope with. Throwing a wrench into his well-tuned life is the entry of Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a fresh faced young dynamo with bright ideas to make the company she and Clooney work for more efficient and cost-effective - she wants to automate the firing process, which would involve the fired person sitting in front of a terminal getting fired remotely from Omaha. With his own job as it stands being threatened, Bingham is instructed to mentor Keener and show her the ropes of what he does, and the complexities of human interaction during the process. Along the way, Bingham meets and beds Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a fellow constant traveler whose no-strings-attached approach to a relationship appeals to Bingham's philosophy and lifestyle.

Up in the Air is an excellent film that does the nearly impossible: it is extremely entertaining, compelling and full of emotion, but at the same time, has a complexity that is refreshing. More than one person I know who have seen this film have mulled it over for days after they saw it, and even though they were favorable to the film initially, found that the more they thought about it, the more they liked it. The performances in the film weren't so much "performances" as "players", because they were incredibly natural. George Clooney, god love him, has somehow become one of my favorite contemporary actors, something I've fought tooth and nail for years, until I came to the realization that while I don't go to see a film because George Clooney is in it, I go to see all George Clooney films because they look really good. I couldn't help but think during the film how much he has become the modern Cary Grant. Anna Kendrick, who I know from nothing (I understand she's in the Twilight series which, thus far, I haven't touched with a ten foot pole) was awesome in her role as the young over-achiever, and Vera Farmiga, another one of those "oh her" type of actresses, was perfect and completely believable in her role.

This is a film about relationships; friendships, love, even the three main characters made up a makeshift family, and Up in the Air is a very "grown up" movie. Reitman and Sheldon Turner turned out an excellent script that wasn't full of hip jargon like his previous film, Juno, but more of a believable tale that I'm sure many people can and will relate to on some level. Jason Reitman has become a director that, until a few missteps occur, I will follow and look forward to his work. Somehow, based on his track record, I don't think those missteps will happen any time soon, however. This guy is the real deal, and I loved this movie.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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