Saturday, January 2, 2010

Up In The Air Film Review

It's not easy making an unpleasant character seem sympathetic. Yet that's what George Clooney does playing Ryan Bingham in director Jason Reitman's Up in the Air. You see Bingham is a guy that works for a company which fires or layoffs employees for other businesses. Why can't the primary firing company dismiss its own employees? Cowardice.

That makes this film one of the most relevant for our current recession. The movie even uses actual people who had recently been fired. One wonders how Bingham endures all the angst of the termination process. Bingham survives by insulating himself in a cocoon of isolation. He even gives motivational speeches, arguing that you have to empty your life of personal relationships.

Yet for all the anti-relationship philosophies that Bingham has, he still wants the personal touch to the firing process. In one hilarious sequence, we see what might happen when an employee gets fired. Zach Galifianakis playing a fired employee goes through all the reactions a terminated employee may do, including getting a rifle and making an attempt to shoot his boss. So, Bingham must ease employees into their new life. He does so with such drivel as "Anybody who ever built an empire or changed the world, sat where you are now." Which can be meaningless to a person who is sixty years old.

Life is good for Bingham. He has limited contact with his family, he is well paid and loves flying around the country. He meets a soul mate in Alex Goran. (Vera Farmiga) Life has reached a regular consistency. Then walks in Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) to rock his world. She's a up and coming executive who has a cost saving plan to fire employees through a computer video linkup. Of course, this is unacceptable to Bingham as it may end his jet set lifestyle. He argues that the personal touch is needed to terminate people. The company then suggests that he take Natalie on the road to show her the ropes.

It is during their journeys across the country that both characters find their worlds changing. Natalie's life goes through emotional upheaval due to changes in her relationship with her boyfriend and experiencing first hand the effect of firing people in person. Bingham also starts to question his vapid life.

George Clooney is charming as Bingham. He's believable. The same can be said for Vera Farmiga, who is sexy and warm. She's easy to love. Anna Kendrick was perfectly cast as the young, uptight and ambitious new executive. The script is witty, thought provoking, funny and sad.

Up in the Air is a film about the dichotomies of life. Ryan and Natalie deliver heartbreaking news yet look for ways to deliver it with a positive spin. We don't want the pain of relationships yet we don't want to be alone. This is a movie that is a must see for the new year. The film is an intelligent and rich comedy drama. The grade is A.

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