Up in the Air Dec 18, 2014 22:22:37 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Dec 18, 2014 22:22:37 GMT -5
Up in the Air (2009)
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Directed by: Jason Reitman
George Clooney and Vera Faminga.
Up in the Air focuses on Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man who has worked for the Career Transitions Corporation (CTC) for several years and has made his living a traveling downsizer, flying all across the United States to lay off white collar workers. He believes in traveling lightly, a philosophy he expands on in the speeches he delivers during his downtime, and resorts to animalistic ideas of walking alone and refusing to bear the baggage relationships, possessions, and other trivial things bring to his structured and meticulously-managed life. His sole goal is to obtain ten million frequent flyer miles, a feat that will grant him not only a personalized flyer card but his name alongside various airplanes, a trait shared by few other individuals.
One day, he is called into his office by his boss (Jason Bateman) where he meets Natale Keener (Anna Kendrick), a young, newly-hired idealist who believes she has created a response to the costly operations of the CTC, which currently has numerous men flying around the United States at all times and staying at lavish hotels, compensated by the company they work for. Natalie foresees a future for the company that has the same sort of traveling downsizers operating over the internet, interacting with souls about to be laid off from their jobs through a webchat program, which will prove to be more economically efficient. Ryan is disgusted about this idea, seeing Natalie's innovation as an impersonal way to communicate with people in one of their most emotionally fragile and unstable times of their lives. To show her that this job requires compassion, quick-wittedness, and one-on-one humanity, he takes her along to be his assistant on various jobs in the United States, showing her what the process is like in the flesh. Along the way, Ryan meets Alex (Vera Faminga), a thirty-four-year-old, traveling saleswoman who could be called Ryan's female counterpart, as she operates with the same sort of suave, confident characteristics as him and embraces the fun and freedom that comes with frequent travel. Ryan relishes the fact that he can maintain a casual, friendly relationship with a woman while still "traveling lightly," so to speak.
Writers Sheldon Turner and director Jason Reitman constantly maintain a human focus and do not get too wrapped up in economical themes or subtext. They center the film entirely on Ryan's life, which is one of the only and most profound depictions of content loneliness I have ever seen. While the film would've been interesting to see Ryan as a quietly-depressed and openly lonely man, entering his later years and realizing he has little to show for it, the suave and confident Ryan we are presented with here works just as well, if not better. Clooney is the ideal actor for Ryan, as he practically oozes these characteristics, and is assisted by the likes of Kendrick and Faminga, who are written with equal attention given to their characters and are not shortchanged as empty female characters.
Up in the Air comes just a year after the crippling financial crisis in America, which left the futures of banks, car dealerships, and the entire American economy uncertain and unstable. Interestingly enough, the film offers a fantastic parallel to one of the features the new American economy will have, which is incredible, technological influence from younger people. The film creates an interesting juxtaposition to what you see occurring in the workforce right now, which is younger people slowly weening out the baby-boomer generation and initiating sweeping technological changes to businesses and industries. In the film, we see Ryan's disgust and disbelief at Natalie's innovation as an underlying theme of the young taking over for the old, and seeing Ryan become beaten at his own game; how long before he finds himself eying himself in the mirror and telling him that he's the one who is fired?
Up in the Air is one of the smartest and strongest films to emerge from post-recession America, focusing intently on a character who is more than content with leading a life of functional loneliness from a writer/director who knows how to usher in meaty, contemplative themes while retaining a pleasant, human focus to the material.
Starring: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Faminga. Directed by: Jason Reitman.