Starring: George Clooney
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Rated: R for pervasive strong language, some sexuality
Movie Released: 2009
To be completely honest with you, I starred at the poster for Up in the air for quite some time. I looked at the DVD sitting in my stack of DVD’s to watch for some time as well. Each time I saw something for the movie, the less I thought I wanted to see it. Sure, it was getting all kinds of buzz at the at the Oscars, but then again what serious Clooney movie doesn’t? To me it looked like a stuffy art house flick that just wasn’t on my radar for must see films. When I finally got around to picking up the DVD and popping in the player, I found myself pleasantly surprised.
Clooney plays an elitist loner who travels from town to town handling the terminations of various employees across the country. The only thing more rewarding to him than his job is the amount of air miles he has traveled, constantly trying to reach that special number that “he hasn’t quite reached yet.” Being on the road 322 days a year, he’s estranged himself from his family and everyone around him. But when his company wants to ground him for good and have him do online firing sessions, he takes a last minute extension to his air time to teach an ambitious young business woman what it is like to fire someone face to face. Along the way, he begins to question his life, love and the relationships that surround him.
The film sounds like a 2 hour bore as we watch Clooney hop from airport to airport, but there is really a great charm about this movie. The flick moves from place to place quickly and along the way you get a feeling like you are right there with them. Clooney’s character Ryan, is a suave, smooth talking charmer of a man who can convince anyone that being fired is a good thing. But as happy as he may seem, he begins to realize that maybe he is missing out on life. His young ambitious co-worker (Anna Kendrick) also does an equally great job, as the power hungry, over ambitious, naive young girl who wants to have the whole world by the strings.
From start to finish, you want to loathe Ryan Bingham. After all, his entire job is to go around firing people. However, having Bingham played by Clooney was the perfect choice, as it’s hard not to love Clooney. Clooney nails this performance. In fact, this may be Clooney’s performance of a lifetime. I have never felt that Clooney has portrayed a character so spot on in my life. Many times I forgot that I was watching Clooney, and instead thought I was watching a documentary about his character. Perhaps the reason this plays so well is that Clooney may not have had to stretch to much to play this character. In many ways he shares the same characteristics of Ryan, both jetting around the world from place to place, humble bachelors that can charm the pants off any girl that comes within 50 feet of them.
The duo of Kendrick and Clooney together works very well, and the two actors find a way of making their on screen time together some of the best parts of the film. However, it’s hard not to also notice the chemistry between Clooney and his on screen love interest played by Vera Farmiga. As the female version of Ryan Bingham, she becomes the perfect opposite for Ryan to question changing his life for.
However the actors can’t act if they don’t have a great script to start with. From start to finish it is the film’s story line that sucks you in, and the carefully crafted, clever writing that keeps you begging for more. There are so many lines in this movie that make you want to laugh, paired with an equal amount of writing that loves to tug at your heart strings. And when these poetic lines are paired with actors that are exceptional at their craft, it’s hard not to fall in love with this film.
I ended 2009 saying I loved The Hurt Locker as my best picture of the year and I still stand by that statement. However, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that Up in the Aircame in a extremely close second. In fact, in many ways I loved Up in the Air for many of the same reasons I loved The Hurt Locker. Amazing acting, a wonderfully crafted script and a direction that put the viewer right in the moment with the characters. Up in the Air is one of those pictures that I am sure to revisit in years to come, possibly even more than I will revisit The Hurt Locker. If you get a chance to check out Up in the Air on DVD, take that chance. You’ll be very glad you did.