Saturday, January 16, 2010

Up in the Air review

Up in the Air is a brilliant film about a man, played by George Clooney, who is going through a mid-life crisis. While he may have thought his lifestyle was liberating and allowed him to excel in his career, it's also made him a very lonely man. A man whose main goal in life is to achieve enough airline miles so he can be a part of an exclusive club (you get a nice-looking card if you get in this club). Yet, this job has also made it impossible for him to have any real personal relationships. Furthermore, his job revolves around firing people for companies who do not have the guts to fire their employees themselves. While his job may have a few nice quirks here and there, one can't help but wonder how desensitized Clooney's character, Ryan, is to human relationships.

Ryan has a side job as a motivational speaker. Telling people that they are better off with less relationships, or an "emptier" backpack. Get rid of all things that make your "backpack" heavier. So it's not just part of the job, for him, it's a philosophy.

Along the way, Ryan meets two women: one, a busy career-woman named Alex (Vera Farmiga), who seems to have a job that requires just as much traveling as Ryan's. Ryan finds someone in Alex that he might want to have a relationship with, potentially. Then there's Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a recent college grad that Ryan is forced to mentor as she begins her first nationwide tour of firings, so to speak. These two women play an important role in causing Ryan to re-think the way he has been living his life. Does he want to settle down? Does he want to find love? Most importantly, is it too late?

Up in the Air is about the state of personal relationships. While Ryan's case is very specific, Up in the Air causes you to think about your own relationships. Does technology de-personalize human contact? With texting, Twitter, and Facebook playing a huge role in the way people communicate today, perhaps we're slowly starting to lose touch with each other. Ryan Bingham's career forces him to keep a distance between himself and other people. He only lives at home for 70 days out of the year. As the movie shows, nobody can go on in life living alone, not even Ryan.

This is a very well-made, mature movie made by Jason Reitman who is starting to establish himself as one of the bright young directors working out there today. This movie is definitely going to get him another best director nomination from the Academy. He's made three movies in five years, which I appreciate. Some of my favorite directors working today take forever before their movie finally gets made. That's right, I'm looking at you Paul Thomas Anderson.

George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick

Based on the novel by Walter Kirn
Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
Directed by Jason Reitman

No comments: