Wednesday 29 December 2010

Up In The Air (2009) - Jason Reitman

Up In The Air is a film about relationships and the need for human contact.  It's essentially a road-trip buddy movie between the older, cynical Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) who finds solace in the isolation of air travel, and the younger, optimistic Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick).  Ryan is a professional "termination engineer", hired by companies to fire members of staff - a job which takes him across the United States.  On his travels he meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), literally "himself with a vagina".  When Natalie is forced to accompany him on his perpetual commute, what follows is a typical role reversal as Natalie is dumped and Ryan's cynicism fades as he falls for Alex, bringing a little sentimentalism.

And then the twist hits.

The film's message though is clear: relationships are necessary for life fulfillment, for better or worse it's how we grow.  This need for human contact is paralleled by the business sub-plot - it turns out firing people face-to-face is preferable to via web-cam.  No shit.  And this heart-warming message is achieved without conforming to slushy convention.

The film, like Ryan, is stylish, charming and sophisticated.  The opening credits alone are well constructed, the visuals synchronised to the soundtrack.  The script too is clever and witty, with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments.  Whilst Clooney does a good job playing himself, the stand-out performance is by Kendrick.  Her equally hilarious and empathetic performance is highly endearing.  Up In The Air is typical of Reitman's style - if you haven't already, watch Juno and Thank You For Smoking too.

And remember: everyone needs a co-pilot.