Warning: Spoilers ahead!
“Up in the Air” has been one of the most talked-about and anticipated movies of the year, and for good reason. This charming, timely character-driven film is “a story about real people,” said supporting actress Anna Kendrick recently to MTV. “And everybody likes that.”
“How much does your life weigh?” This is the question Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) asks. “Up in the Air” follows Bingham, who makes a living out of traveling the country firing people. We quickly learn Ryan thrives in his solitary existence, racking up frequent flier miles and spending less than 50 days a year at home in Omaha. Bingham’s life is very light, which supports his philosophy that “moving is living.” His flow is interrupted by Natalie Keener, a Cornell grad and his company’s newest hire. Natalie bursts onto the scene chock full of bright new ideas for the company’s technological advancement that would put Bingham exactly where he doesn’t want to be — grounded. Bingham decides to take Keener on a trip to show her the ropes, and on the course of their journey, they both learn something about love, ending a career and each other.
Written by: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner; novel written my Walter Kirn
Starring: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman
During the first part of the film, it’d be easy to think this movie was a comedy — and a good one. We all know Clooney is a pro at the adorable head-dip and boyish smile, but we get a chance to see his funny side in Bingham’s consistent frustrated jabs toward Keener. When her boyfriend breaks up with her via text message, Bingham doesn’t miss a beat, replying, “Yeah, it’s kinda like firing someone over the internet.”
The most charming, hilarious scene in the movie is the first meeting between Bingham’s foxy fellow traveller Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga). They bond over their mutual obsession with “elite status,” comparing notes on the best car companies to use (Hertz, apparently) and what membership cards they share. They end up in bed together and start a loose relationship, shacking up in hotels across the country. When Bingham expresses initial discomfort at the idea of getting into a relationship, Goran lays his fears to rest: “Thing of me as yourself, but with a vagina.”
However, about 3/4 of the way through, the movie takes a drastic, bleak turn. Keener’s plucky optimism about her “firing over the internet” idea is effectively shut down when she actually has to look into the eyes of hopeless Americans and tell them they are no longer needed. Bingham opens his mind to the possibility of a relationship with Goran only to be crushed when he finds that she is married. The movie ends where it started with Keener off to a different job and with Bingham back up in the air.
The cast in this film deliver a pitch-perfect performance. Newcomer Anna Kendrick has been receiving praise for months, due in part for her acting but also undoubtedly to the amazing fact that she’s so young. Clooney is great, as always, and we see a new side of him as heartbroken and deserted. But the best performance comes from Farmiga. Unless you read this review beforehand, you won’t anticipate that she’s married until the last minute. A veritable newcomer to the big screen, she handles Clooney expertly while also bringing something of her own to the table. Anna Kendrick will doubtless receive an Oscar nomination.
It must also be mentioned that there are some great cameos by Blast favorite Zach Galifianakis and Director Jason Reitman favorite, J.K. Simmons. The only forced part of the movie is its documentary-style conversations with people who have been laid off. Reason number one why you stick with professional actors. Despite that, it’s great to say that for once, the movie lives up to the hype, if not surpassing it.