Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman
“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you're carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life.” With a spartan apartment and a neatly packed suitcase, Ryan Bingham’s (Clooney) life doesn’t weigh very much, which is just as well as he spends his time up in the air. He flies around the US, working for a company that fires people working for other companies.
He exists almost entirely for travelling. Disconnected from his family, totting up air miles, the only person he picks up is intermittent love interest Alex (Farmiga) - a self-serving businesswoman, she's like him, but with a vagina. But when newbie Natalie (Kendrick) has the idea to sack people via webcam, Bingham's boss (Bateman) plans to ground everyone, threatening Ryan’s happy existence. Unable to understand why this is a bad idea, the boss sends Ryan and Natalie on the road to show her the ropes in redundancy (“we make limbo bearable”).
During the film, they both grow. Natalie understands what it’s like to be rejected via impersonal media, and Ryan begins to wish his hypothetical backpack was a little more full. Gradually coming back down to land with a bump, his attempts to fix his broken relationships only result in painful revelations. But don't write his role off as predictable.
Clooney’s charm brings a likeability to a role which would otherwise be a hate figure, especially given the current economic climate. Subtle, charismatic, in control - without Clooney, there would be no film. The two female leads are also very good, the script giving each character a depth seldom seen on screen. Watch out for cameos from Sam Elliot and JK Simmons, as well as some genuinely amusing and touching snippets from extras: a string of real people who have been fired.
Reitman's screenplay is very well written. It's laugh out loud funny, but has a poignancy, as it focuses on the importance of family and the life-changing effects that losing a job can have. As one victim of redundancy puts it, “losing a job is as bad as losing a family member. But work is my family and it’s me who’s dying."
Reitman follows Juno with another snappy script that snipes at the selfishness of corporate America. It's great stuff, but Up in the Air is all about the Clooney.
- air miles
- anna kendrick
- george clooney
- jason reitman
- up in the air
- vera farmiga