Up in the Air is the 3rd feature film from writer/director Jason Reitman, the two films before this one are thank you for smoking and Juno. I loved both the later films and this third one is a film adaptation of the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn, also entitled Up in the Air.
The movie starts off with a nice montage of aerial views from different states in the US accompanied by nice music and for someone who never gets to travel it was nice to see things that frequent flyers often come across. The film’s main character is Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a career transition counselor or in simpler terms a guy who fires people for a living and right after the beginning credits you see real people expressing how they felt when they got fired. That’s an excellent way to introduce Ryan Bingham because it shows the audience exactly what he encounters when he does what he does best. He’s also made travelling an art form as everything he does from packing his luggage to checking in at the airport is done with amazing accuracy and efficiency.
George Clooney did a lot for this character but did it with such ease because Ryan Bingham seems a lot like him in real life, or maybe that’s just how great actors work, they make you believe that their like the characters they portray in real life. The script was clearly written with him in mind and although I think Robert Downey Jr. could do most of the acting he wouldn’t be able to make the character as likable as Clooney did. You see Ryan Bingham was never presented as a bad guy or a good guy in then film, he was a guy with a job that would make anyone seem bad in nature but still you didn’t hate him for that, he’s just a guy with different views and happens to be really good at doing a ‘dirty’ job and he manages to pull you in so much so that you root for him to succeed in everything and for me that includes hoping that even though people he fires might not deserve it, i hoped that they finished their conversation believing all of Ryan Bingham’s rubbish.
In a chance encounter in Dallas he comes across someone who is essentially his female counterpart, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga). Vera acts very well and as good as George Clooney was in this film she was still able to hold her own and make it feel like we are seeing two people that are attracted to each other as equals, granted Ryan has a lot more miles under his belt but that’s not really the point. I really loved their interactions throughout the film and this first encounter was so well edited because the camera lingers enough to show subtle facial expressions during the scene.
Anna Kendrick of Twilight fame plays Natalie Keener a smart and young professional who threatens Ryan Bingham’s lifestyle by introducing technology into the mix, instead of traveling across the United States to fire people she proposes that their company should just lay people off via web conference. This movie was Anna Kendrick’s chance to shine and like Vera Farmiga performs really well alongside the Hollywood elite. I couldn’t look at her when she starts shouting and lecturing Bingham because her eyebrows just looked weird when she was angry but other than that she did really well in this film. She provides an alternate view and sometimes even a wake up call for Ryan and she adds humorous scenes to the film as well.
The rest of the cast also did a fine job and that includes Jason Bateman who plays Ryan’s boss Craig Gregory, J.K. Simmons and Zach Galifianakis who were both fired by Ryan were also even though they basically had one scene in the film.
The thing that’s so great about this movie is that you’re getting more than what you pay for. It shines the light on the current economic situation and if you’re in a country that has a double digit unemployment rate or maybe you or someone you know have been laid off as well this film will definitely strike a chord especially during the scenes where Ryan Bingham does his work and when the film cuts to clips of real people getting fired. It’s also a nice romantic comedy that couples watching the show will appreciate, its not overly sappy but there’s enough romance in the film for lovers, plus it offers a unique twist at the end. It’s a kinda feel good movie, for anyone looking to be inspired you can take Ryan Bingham’s motivational speeches and see what your backpack contains and its up to you how you want to fill its contents and show how much you appreciate them.
This film just does everything, its a compelling drama and yet it’s also candid in tackling a lot of things in life from the normal to the grand but in a very personal way. At this point I’m just rambling praises about the movie, but that’s how good it is, it manages to do all these things and combines them seamlessly into one film thanks to great editing by Dana Glauberman and direction by Jason Reitman.
And I’m not entirely pissed about the fact that my review is 3 months late because I live in Singapore because I can’t wait to see this film again and I only have to wait a week or 2 before the DVD is released!