REVIEW: ‘Up in the Air’

Jason Reitman
George Clooney
Vera Farmiga
Anna Kendrick
Jason Bateman
Amy Morton
Rated: R

“Up in the Air” is already getting some Oscar buzz, and it’s certainly for good reason.

The film follows a man named Ryan Bingham (Clooney), who travels all across the United States for his job. It turns out that Ryan works for a company that’s hired by other corporations to assist in layoffs. Despite the depressing nature of his job, Ryan tries to find dignity in it and he loves the aspect of being able to travel.

The film’s events pick up as Ryan has to travel with a young woman named Natelie (Kendrick), who’s supporting an idea to lay people off over a video conference. The film follows the two characters and others as it explores the economic state of America and its impact on people who see it first hand.

The strengths of “Up in the Air” comes from the many things it explores. Themes from being a young worker a little bit in over your head to a middle aged person unable to really decide what they want from life are delved into here, resulting in an interesting and emotional experience.

Additionally, the film provides a different perspective on the economic crisis, rather than say, being a movie about what happened on Wall Street. In this picture, audiences are able to see the results of people being laid off in the immediate moments.

Many of these elements are executed so well because of the fantastic script. The conversations, whether they be about firing someone or about relationships, the dialogue feels real and intellectually engaging.

The acting is the best part of the film, though. Clooney, for example gives an award caliber performance as a man who is a cynical realist, but is also very much a human who at the end of the day wants to do the right thing. This is evident both in how he interacts with those his character is laying off and some of the relationship events that happen in the movie.

Kendrick, meanwhile, is phenomenal as the younger employee, bringing both the naivety of her character while also being the bright-eyed optimist as Ryan’s foil.

Another solid performance is given by Vera Farmiga who plays Alex. A woman whose job also takes her across the country, Alex meets Ryan and the two hit it off, resulting in an interesting relationship between two rather skeptical individuals.

“Up in the Air” is both charming and emotional. It’s both cleverly funny and downright sad at points. What the film does best, though, is capture humanity and does so compellingly, making it one of the best of the year. 5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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