Saturday, March 20, 2010

UP IN THE AIR - Review

Directed by Jason Reitman, Starring George Clooney, Vera Farminga & Anna Kendrick

Ryan Bingham (Clooney) is the type of man who appears to have it all figured out.  His life is concise.  So concise in fact, that he even gives seminars about how to fit your every need into a carry on duffle bag.  But that is just moonlighting.  His primary job is to fire people for employers who lack the guts to do it themselves.  In these lean times, business is booming.

Bingham spends a great deal of time on planes.  His apartment is empty, his duffle bag is full.  He finds comfort in his routine.  When a man seated next to him asks where he is from, he responds: "I'm from here".  Everything is temporary.  This status quo is eventually shattered when he is partnered with Natalie, a young up-and-comer with a big idea about how to revolutionize his industry: firing people over the internet.  No fuss, no muss.  It is hard to tell what disgusts Bingham more; the impersonal brutality of her new method or, the fact that it would mean permanent grounding for him.

This is a fine role for George Clooney.  It allows him to show us a side we rarely see through his sometimes snarky, cool exterior: vulnerability.  I believe this to be one of his best performances.  He is supported by a stellar female duo in Vera Farminga and Anna Kendrick.  Farminga is cool, funny and smart.  She is the character we are used to seeing Clooney play.  Anna Kendrick has a natural charm about her, akin to Amy Adams.  She attempts to convey her vulnerability with careful calculation, but when it rains, it pours.

I have a great appreciation for films that convey a sense of change as opposed to wrapping things up in a nice, tidy package.  People are not perfect.  They soldier on.  They try.  Bingham may not make a complete one eighty in the end, but at least he knows he can turn around.


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