Up In The Air
- James Mottram
- 5 January 2010
Rarely has a film felt so timely. After his satirical study of an unscrupulous tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking and the charming teen angst tale Juno, director Jason Reitman delivers an absorbing examination of our recession-hit world in Up in the Air. Adapted from Walter Kirn’s novel, the film centres on well-groomed executive Ryan Bingham (George Clooney, in fine form). Flying from city-to-city, Bingham is hired to fire, with cowardly companies employing him to let people go in a professional yet clinical manner. Affording him a nomadic lifestyle he relishes – not least for keeping him apart from relatives he cares little for – it seems his biggest ambition in life is to amass 10 million frequent flier miles.
The rub comes when we learn that Bingham’s life on the road is being threatened thanks to a new scheme by grad-school whiz Natalie (Anna Kendrick) that will see all future firings done via video conferencing. If that presents a shock to his system, further change comes when he starts falling for a like-minded executive named Alex (Vera Farmiga).
Admittedly, the notion of a loved-up bachelor forced to reassess his priorities sounds like the stuff of Hollywood sentiment. But Reitman’s mature approach to the material – deftly balancing humour and pathos – makes for a very satisfying experience indeed. With first-rate acting throughout, and production values to match, Up In The Air barely hits a bum note. Poignant, prescient, sharp, incisive, for once, a Hollywood film hits the nail squarely on the head.
General release from Fri 15 Jan.