Up in the Air
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick and Jason Bateman
The thing that Up in the Air succeeds with most, apart from its stellar performances and its kick ass soundtrack (Hello, Elliott Smith!), is its ability to be incredibly witty and sharp, and at the same time maintain an air of tragedy about itself. Up in the Air owes much of its quick fired dialogue to the classic romantic comedies of the 1930's-1940's. Katherine Hepburn and her speedy yet defiant drawl, or the humor between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert as they separate their bedroom with a bed sheet. The film is not so much a rehashing of all of these classic movies, but more of a bittersweet reminder that there was a time when witty banter filled the silver screens. Think of it as Adam's Rib for the post-9/11, electronically addicted America.
Ryan Bingham(An on point George Clooney) is a motivational speaker/a man who travels around the country to fire employees. Besides reaching his goal of 10 million plane miles, Ryan has few other cares or obsticles in his way. Enter Alex(Vera Farmiga, who couldn't look more genuinely pretty), a very compatiable and female version of Ryan, and sparks really start to fly. When together, Ryan and Alex play off one another like a sexually charged game of Pong, the chemistry between both characters is very compelling.
All of this is fair and good, until Ryan is introduced to a new employee, Natalie, a marriage minded, uptight and spritely girl who is about five minutes away from taking Ryan's job away. Her idea is to take the act of firing into the new millenium by setting up virual web cams that make the job easier, and allow the company to cut back of paying for plane fare, which Ryan will not stand for, do not pass go. Natalie is played by Anna Kendrick whose grip on her character is so professional that even for a young woman whose previous film had her as Bella's best friend in the Twilight series to show such depth is refreshing to see in young actors.
Not so much a trip to enlightenment as it is a journey into the life of a man who never realized just how lonely he was, Up in the Air is on the pulse of the nation, considering our current state of economic affairs. It ends on a blah note, which is a small disappointment, but to have a film that so expertly takes contemporary America and injects sly and well thought out humor into its veins, that in itself is worth note.
To divulge in describing the plot would only cheat the viewer. It's not, for lack of a better word, a completely complex saga, nor is it a cookie cutter romantic dramedy. No, Up in the Air is, simply put, interesting filmmaking. Filmmaking that deserves to be observed, watched and given the right amount of treatment to. It analyzes one man, whose search to find inner contentment he learns may have begun too late, who is hurt, but redeems himself, who finds empathy in his friends and family. And, hell, that's life in itself.