UP IN THE AIR - Another of Reitman's Gems
UP IN THE AIR (drama)
Cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey and J.K. Simmons
Director: Jason Reitman
Screenplay: Walter Kim & Jason Reitman
Time: 109 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Can one ever get enough of George Clooney? Well, the Americans seem enamoured of him, especially the critics. Last year, he worked on three critically acclaimed movies - the animated and Fantastic Mr Fox, The Men Who Stare At GoatsUp In The Air. These three entries smacked of Oscar award material but somehow the absurd comedy Men Who Stare At Goats got lost along the way, leaving Fantastic Mr Fox with two nominations (for Best Animated Film and Best Score) and Up In The Air with six, including Best Picture and Best Director.
I don't expect any wins, though.
THE SKINNY: Ryan Bingham's (George Clooney) world is one of airports, chain hotels and loyalty cards. His life as a professional downsizer and motivational speaker keeps him travelling around America enjoying his privileges as a frequent business flier. Charming, slick and truly happy with his unencumbered lifestyle, Ryan revels in his life “up in the air” and one of his goals is not to get married but to get into the coveted 10-million mile flyers' club.
His easy-going lifestyle hits turbulence when he encounters two women. One of them is the sexy but enigmatic Alex (Vera Farmiga), a frequent flyer just like Ryan but "with a vagina". In Alex, Ryan finds someone with whom he might actually start a relationship, even if it is in hotels and airports. The second is Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) a new colleague who comes up with the idea of using teleconference technology to sack people. Determined to prove to her that this is not the way to go, Ryan brings Natalie on the road with him with unexpected results.
HITS & MISSES: Jason Reitman's Up In The Air is a character-driven vehicle, not unlike his 2007 Juno. However, while Juno deals with the perennial problem of teen pregnancy, Up In The Air is topical, dealing with the painful problem of downsizing and retrenchment. Reitman first penned this story back in 2002, but completed the movie last year to ride on the waves of 'global recession'. You can be sure those who have been involved in downsizing are going to relate to this film.
Here, it is not only Clooney who shines as the pathetic protag living out of a suitcase, but also co-stars Farmiga and Kendrick (pic, left) who flesh out their characters so convincingly that we get charmed by them and their ideas. Farmiga strings us along with her casual and carefree Alex while Kendrick's Natalie shows a strong facade hiding a vulnerable and emotional centre. Jason Bateman supports as Ryan's boss while Melanie Lynskey plays his sister.
THE LOWDOWN: Mark this as another of Reitman's gems.