Up in the Air Review
On the surface, “Up in the Air” is a simple movie. It’s about a man who spends his life alone traveling from city to city for work, who learns that being alone may not be the best thing. Yet, the movie is filled with so many complex undertones that it’s constantly engaging, often funny, and always entertaining.
George Clooney is wonderful as Ryan Bingham, a man whose job is to tell people they are fired. He’s proud of his frequent flier status and his one goal in life is to reach a certain mileage plateau that only a handful of people have reached. He would reach it easily, if not for Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a young hot-shot hired to revolutionize his company. She plans to cut costs by keeping Bingham and his co-workers localized in Omaha, conducting their firings via video chat.
When Bingham insists this is the wrong way to go about things, his boss, Craig Gregory (played wonderfully by Jason Bateman), forces Bingham to take Natalie out on the job with him – so she can learn more about the process. Along the way, they both learn more about themselves and other people (many of Bingham’s experiences come through his interactions with Alex, a female version of himself played by Vera Farmiga in an incredible role), they find and lose love, and they grow in both expected and unexpected ways.
One of the most impressive features of “Up in the Air” is that, while the overall story may be predictable, the film respects its audience. Nothing is blunt or overstated – it allows the audience to make its own interpretations of the events and because of that, one feels that much more satisfied watching it.
Additionally, for a movie that is so timely during our current recession, it manages to keep a light outlook. While the events taking place are both serious and disheartening – and sometimes even tragic – the film almost always takes the funny approach, leaving the audience with a smile on its face. Indeed, one of the underlying messages is that we have to look for the good in any bad situation, and the film not only conveys this but sometimes even shows us how.
Jason Reitman has become an expert at taking the serious and making funny, witty, characters that we care about from it. “Up in the Air” is no exception. In a time when most people are spending time overly stressed and worried, this films shows us how to step back and see what’s really important – and it does it in the most engrossing of ways.