Up In The Air is pretty much the kind of film I find myself hoping for each year. It’s a film full of wit, humor, heart, and feels like it totally represents the weird, uncertain state that this country is in right now. Director Jason Reitman made two comedic triumphs with Thank You For Smoking and Juno, but I think this is his best film yet.
George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man who’s job is to help companies downsize by firing their employees, and consequently spends most of his life on the road. After he’s asked to take on an up-and-comer, played by Anna Kendrick he starts to fall for a woman with a similar lifestyle, played by Vera Farmiga. Both of these women cause Bingham to question his way of life as he gets closer to his goal of reaching 10 million miles traveled.
Clooney gives what might be his best performance, and pretty much the whole cast is a real pleasure to watch, Kendrick and Farmiga especially. The three of them are great comedic foils for each other and also bring a great amount of depth to their characters. I can already see that Reitman has a penchant for smug characters caught in a crisis, and Clooney brings a nice amount of vulnerability while still being able to come off as one of Hollywood’s coolest leading men.
The whole corporate downsizing aspect of the film blends quite nicely with the existential questions raised by Clooney’s character, and the fact that the film used real layed-off workers for the firing scenes gives the film an even deeper resonance. Another thing I really liked about Up In The Air is the way it kind of sets you up for this soft happy ending, but kind of shifts very skillfully in a different direction. And I think it’s kind of rare to find comedies now a days that try to tell an unpredictable story while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
I guess this seems like the kind of film that I’d usually give 4 stars, but what can I say? I really can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about it, it completely deserves all of the Oscar-buzz it’s been getting and I think Jason Reitman will definitely be a director to look out for in the years to come.
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