Up in the Air - Film Review

Posted on 13. Dec, 2009 by in Film/TV

It’s rare, the film so perfectly bittersweet that it can put a smile on your face even as it simultaneously puts a lump in your throat or a pang of wincing recognition on your face, but that’s the case with Up in the Air, which exists at the perfect intersection of snappish fun, modulated gravity, and sociocultural relevance, in addition to being anchored by three of the year’s best performances. A terrifically funny and poignant work that arrives at all its emotional moments honestly, director Jason Reitman’s third film is a shoo-in for a Best Picture nod and many other Oscar nominations, and should solidify his position as one of the most sought after young directors working today.
Up in the Air stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchetman who flies from city to city handling layoffs for other companies. Ryan loves his road-warrior business life, and the massive accumulation of airline miles and hotel rewards program points that it affords him. When his company downsizes its travel budget and makes plans to switch over to a computer conference-call firing system, however, Ryan is forced to take upstart protégé Natalie (Anna Kendrick) under his wing and on the road for one last demonstration of how things work in person, just after he’s seemingly met his perfect mirror-image love match, Alex (Vera Farmiga). Also looming on the horizon for Ryan is the wedding of his younger sister, to a groom he has yet to meet.
Up in the Air most readily recalls two Alexander Payne films, Sideways and Election, in that those movies dealt with, broadly speaking, male midlife crises in love and lust, as well as the at-odds interaction of a teacher and pupil. The barbed, sometimes dark humor that marked Reitman’s previous work in Thank You For Smoking and Juno is also seeded into the movie, and the banter, adapted by Reitman and Sheldon Turner from Thumbsucker author Walter Kim’s novel, is top notch. Clooney, Farmiga, and Kendrick (so fantastic in the underrated Rocket Science) make for an appealing trio, and the film as a whole leaves marks light and dark. Book your ticket now.

(R, 5 out of 5 )
Would Like This: Fans of Sideways, Election

-Brent Simon

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