D: Jason Reitman. DP: Eric Steelberg. W: Reitman & Sheldon Turner. Starring: George Clooney/Vera Farmiga/Anna Kendrick/Jason Bateman/Amy Morton/Melanie Lynskey/J.K. Simmons/Danny McBride/Zach Galifianakis. (NOTE: Based on the novel by Walter Kim).
Although marketing as the searing new comedy by Reitman, responsible for Thank You For Smoking (2005) and Juno (2007), Up in the Air is anything, but what it appears to be.
Reitman immediately sets the tone with his film by introducing George Clooney’s Ryan Bringham. His swift, habitual behavior as he lives out his airport to airport existence amidst pit stops to fire people at other companies, Clooney clearly handles every aspect of Ryan’s pace and persona. And it is this persona that finds instant and electric kinship with Vera Farmiga’s Alex. In a cute scene where they first meet, Farmiga and Clooney whip out all their airline cards and exclusive airport club. Their chemistry is palpable, with their relationship being the best out of the bunch in the film.
As primarily Reitman’s film is about relationships. The ones we rely on, the one’s we let go, and the ones we deny ourselves. Clooney’s lifestyle of isolation and minimal human connection ultimately infuriates the new addition in his life. As his company evolves to attempt to become more efficient Clooney’s boss, Craig (Jason Bateman), hires Natalie (Anna Kendrick). Pert and persistent, Kendrick is forced to tag along with Clooney in order for her to get a grasp on the field of firing people.
Most of the humor of this film is confined to their relationship and Clooney’s airport know-how. As although the film is acted very well, ultimately Up in the Air is not a comedy. In fact, it is a very serious film not only about relationships, but about the alienation in business, the necessity of human connection and feeling, and the direction of modern life. All very topical and great for discussions, but not humorous or engrossing.
Since by the end of Reitman’s stylized, quick-paced film, no one is satisfied. The audience is flummoxed and the characters seem to have unraveled only to right themselves again, but for what? Nothing has changed, rather people have just moved on. So although Up in the Air might run away with a few awards this season, and already has, the film really begs the question of worth? What is the film actually being awarded for? Of course, more questions, which is all this film will leave you with.