Up in the Air Review

Release Date (UK) – 15 January 2010
Certificate (UK) –15
Country – USA
Director – Jason Reitman
Runtime – 109 mins
Starring – George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick

Up in the Air is heavily tipped to win several of this years Oscars, already having received 6 Golden Globe nominations. From Juno director Jason Reitman comes another comedic drama, but this time a much more adult one. Clooney’s character Ryan Bingham spends his life flying across America as his ‘termination’ firm sends him out to sack hoards of employees when the companies themselves don’t have the balls to. Ryan loves the world of airports and flights, and is aiming to earn 10 million air miles to join the ranks of the worlds most frequent flyers. He is obsessed with elite status and hates having to spend time at his rented hotel home in Omaha, as he has absolutely no desire for a home or family. However his state of bliss is thrown into question when his company’s new recruit Natalie (Kendrick) suggests that the workforce can simply stay in the office and sack people via a video link, saving the firm thousands of dollars that they spend on flights a year. To convince her that this won’t work Clooney brings her out on to the road to show her that the job really needs that personal touch he brings to it.

Up in the Air’s popularity may be due to its light hearted look at a topical subject of the recent global recession and resulting job cuts. In frequent montage sequences, peppered with famous faces, reactions of sacked employees display both the seriousness of the economic climate but also try to make the subject into comedy without mocking those who’ve lost their jobs. There’s also an addition romance sub plot for Clooney after he meets fellow frequent flyer Alex (Farmiga) in a bar and after bonding over a shared love of elite status they meet up whenever their stopovers coincide. Although Ryan has a side job in giving lectures on how to shrug off emotional baggage from life, this plot and the later development of his own family relationships at his sisters wedding both try to highlight how deep down he must really crave the ideas of love and stability he repeatedly rejects. However this plot is very weak and doesn’t convince either way which just leaves us confused with the whole notion and purpose of the film.

The screenplay is perhaps the best aspect of the film – its funny whilst also remaining wonderfully true to life in its language and conversations. Unfortunately, the reliance on a knowledge of American geography means that non-domestic audiences simply won’t get the implications of where Ryan travels and some of the subtler jokes. The casting of Clooney itself is another major stumbling point. Unfortunately Clooney can only play one role so there no surprises or new depths to Ryan’s character as Clooney just plays it in his usual deadpan charismatic way – a different choice of actor could definitely have brought much more to the role. Altogether Up in the Air is a great comedic film slight let down by a couple of minor flaws hwich mean it might not be as great as you expected, but its still a thoroughly recommended watch.

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