Friday, January 22, 2010

Up In The Air

Up In The Air

Year: 2009
Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman

In My Own Words

“Up In The Air” is probably my most anticipated film of 2010, and that’s a big call as there are many films I am looking forward to this year. However, this one was the one I had most wanted to win Best Picture at the Oscars, even before I had seen it. After seeing it, I still do very much want it to win the big one. It was different to the way I thought it would be. Comical, but not as comical as Jason Reitman’s pat films such as “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno”. His past two bordered on quirky, while “Up In The Air” signifies how he is growing as a director, and in the best way. I was by no means disappointed with this film, even with how high my expectations were going into it. That is perhaps the best feeling for a cinephile, having high expectations for a film, and that expectation being fulfilled.

The big question for most people will be, can this film beat out “Avatar” come the 7th of March? It’s impossible to predict right now, but they are two very different films. That may be the beauty of the nominees this year, if the Golden Globes nominations are anything to go by. There are films completely different from each other in the race for Best Picture. Box office figures will of course suggest “Avatar”, but the box office does not mean a thing come the Academy Awards.

These are my own words and here is my review.

If there is one movie that is the best representation of the economic and emotional state of the USA at the moment, it is “Up In The Air”. This film is amazing, in every sense. It is indeed a superb directing performance for Jason Reitman, and shows his growth as a film maker. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is hired to travel across the country and fire the employees of companies. In other words, he does the dirty work of others. As a result, he is cut off emotionally from the world he lives in. He is indifferent to this lifestyle, until he meets the charming Alex (Vera Farmiga) and is teamed up to work with the young and fiery Natalie (Anna Kendrick) and they show him how much he really is missing out on in life.

There is not much bad that can be said about “Up In The Air”. It is a clever and witty adapted screenplay from the novel of the same name by Walter Kirn. All the characters are interesting and there is never a moment that is wasted in the film. Each line spoken and every scene is of importance and a joy to watch. The movie is perfectly edited and the cinematography is amazing right from the beginning with stunning aerial shots of many of Americas varied landscapes. What really makes the film so impressive is its aesthetic value. Reitman has the uncanny ability of making the audience feel as though they are really in each of the locations of the film. For example, when Bingham is on a plane, you can feel the enclosed surroundings of it and even smell the aircraft scent. The same is with the airports and the homely rural American cottage hotel which Bingham visits for his sisters wedding. His choice of camera shots are also extremely commendable, such as controlled for the parts of the film where he is doing his job, to using a hand held camera when he is among his family, to show the change of perspective in each stage of his life.

The characters development and the casting in “Up In The Air” is also near perfect. Although George Clooney’s role as Bingham is not a particularly hard role to play, he fulfils his role perfectly. There is closeness felt towards his character towards the end of the film and a sadness to leave him behind. It is impossible to see anyone play Bingham the way Clooney has, he becomes the character perfectly. Miss Anna Kendrick is the stand out performance of the film. She is an absolute firecracker as the naive, but ambitious Natalie and leaves all her other “Twilight” co-stars for dead. Although she is no stranger to film, this is her most grown-up role for the 24 year old yet, and like Clooney, is not an actor in this film, but is the character in its complete physical form. Both the characters grow on the screen and the audience plays witness to the change in their roles over the film. Vera Farmiga is also not to be forgotten. She plays a sexy and sultry part, but also shows her vulnerable side. It is interesting to note that many Americans who had recently lost their job, are featured in the film to add to the reality of the economic climate of the United States.

The ending may not be everyone’s idea of the way it the film should finish, but it is fitting as it shows hope and despair for the characters and for the world itself. It really is an extremely well made film and one which will not disappoint emotionally. It is comical in parts and tear-jerking in others. Reitman has really created a brilliant piece of art in “Up In The Air”, and it is an absolute joy to watch.


  1. unfortunately i did not care for this one, at all.

  2. Ha, he means the film, he gave it a C+ I think?

    I however loved the film. I think a big difference between this film and Juno is that Reitman -- along with Sheldon Turner -- wrote the script for UITA, while Juno was written by the far quirkier Diablo Cody, perhaps accounting for the difference you mentions. Nevertheless, Reitman has certainly grown into an efficient, smart, honest filmmaker, who really tries to say some important things with his films.

  3. Yes, Danny is right, the movie. I'm non plussed too as to how this movie deals with economic crisis, I'm not American, so maybe that's lost on me. I always wonder though if in a time of drawbacks if Ryan's job wouldn't become obsolete. People are PAYING people for something they can do on their own? Eh, oh well.

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  5. I saw it a second time and naturally some things were running through my head that suggested some possible holes in the storyline - but actually upon second thought they weren't a big deal! (if you don't want spoilers, don't read further) e.g. if ryan had encountered someone from his speaking spots before or after firing them, his message is still clear - work is simply another thing weighing you down. And knowing what working in corporate america is like, they ARE the wimps that the movie suggests. If there is an option that allows them to bear as little risk as possible of getting sued, let's outsource redundancies!

  6. I really dug this film too, and still agree with much of what you say in your review ("great minds", right?).

    As for its Oscar hopes, I fear it might have peaked a tad too early, and now seems to stand its best chance at winning a Best Adapted Screenplay nom.

    PS - What did you think of the twist? When we talked about it in my podcast, I admitted that I didn't see it coming...but my wife and best girl friend said they saw it coming a mile off.

  7. The twist of Alex? Yep, I saw it coming!Well....I saw it coming when he decided to go and see her!

    I know, I would LOVE to see it win the Oscar, but I don't think it will now. I would have loved especially to see Kendrick win, but she has no chance against Mo'nique, any other year it would have been hers. I just would have loved to have seem the Twilight girl outshine everyone else in those films!