Up In The Air

Director    Jason Reitman
Starring    George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis
Release    23 DEC (US) 15 JAN (UK)    Certificate 15
4 stars


14th January 2010

Remember before pre-printed boarding passes, when you'd be queuing at check-in for 30 minutes, manically searching for your passport and tickets, only to have someone roll past you with their top-of-the line Samsonite holdall with dedicated laptop and "liquids" compartments, sail through first class check-in and security and be in their high-end Hertz hire cars before you even had your already dog-eared boarding pass in your sweaty little hand? Don't be too quick to envy their flashy suits and graphite members cards.

Jason Reitman is back with another lovable yet unlikeable social outcast (see also: Thank You For Smoking, Juno), plus a film that doesn't defend the fact that some people get paid a lot of money to do terrible things - and they're actually okay with that. Wonderfully, he brings with him appearances from his stalwart stars - Sam Elliot, JK Simmons and the great Jason Bateman - plus that subtle hand that's seen him race to the top of the list of Oscar favourites.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a full-time hatchet man; a corporate downsizer who travels around the country "letting people go" on behalf of their cowardly employers. And you can see why people would hire him to do such a soul destroying job. Bingham really makes these recently unemployed saps believe that this last day at work is the first day of the rest of their lives. For 50 people a day, for 5 minutes at a time, he is caring, empathetic and reassuring.

The rest of the time, he cares only how many Air Miles he gets when he buys his dinner, or which car rental place has the best airport kiosk placement (and Air Miles). Clooney, naturally, has the self-effacing wit and charm to play both a snake oil salesman and a purring pussycat.

When he's not sacking nameless faces, Ryan moonlights as a motivational speaker. He tours the circuit with philosophies and ideals telling people that in order to have happy lives they should get rid of everything they own and everyone they know; that you're better off on your own, with nothing in your metaphorical backpack save for a Blackberry, a passport and a clean towel.

[gallery]When recently graduated Natalie (Anna Kendrick) joins the company, she introduces their obnoxious yuppie boss Craig Gregory (Bateman) to wireless, face-to-face, cost-free downsizing and Ryan is unceremoniously grounded. Bingham tries to convince Gregory that Natalie's plans would rob what is already an insensitive job of any humanity at all; an argument which results in them being mentor/mentee'd up with each other to learn important life lessons about not being a dinosaur and not being an insufferable pipsqueak.

Bingham is closer to the girl who works the first class American Airlines desk than he is his own sisters. He has a fully stocked mini bar in his painfully sparse studio "home". His one relationship of a physical and emotional nature comes in the form of fellow frequent flyer Alex (a fabulously cool Vera Farmiga). They arrange their next lay-overs with a barrage of airport codes and route numbers, romance and stability not exactly at the forefront of their minds.

Over the course of the film, everyone in it has to re-evaluate the way they view life and the lives around them. Thankfully, Up In The Air doesn't try and tell you how to live your life. Ryan Bingham was in a cocoon for years and it didn't make him a bad guy, other people have families and homes and they're not bad guys either.

This is simply the story of a man who feels at home when he's travelling, and in those travels has forgotten how to really connect with people. Never has 'baggage' been a more appropriate metaphor.

Follow us on Twitter @The_Shiznit for more fun features, film reviews and occasional commentary on what the best type of crisps are.
We are using Patreon to cover our hosting fees. So please consider chucking a few digital pennies our way by clicking on this link. Thanks!

Share This