Reviews

Up In The Air

4

Downsizing takes Clooney to a career high…

Were Nick Naylor, the wily tobacco industry lobbyist from Jason Reitman’s debut feature Thank You For Smoking, to meet Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), the debonair corporate downsizer from his third, they’d probably get on like a house on fire.

No doubt they’d swap stories on one of the planes the latter calls home, down a few complimentary beverages before going their separate ways with each other’s business card tucked inside their impeccably tailored suits.

As soon as they got to their respective five-star hotels, of course, they’d promptly throw those cards away. The difference is Ryan would probably chuck Nick’s right there in the airport.

Not that Ryan’s a shit. It’s just that he doesn’t care about anything but his own existence, flitting from city to city to sack employees their bosses are too gutless to can themselves. (The politically correct term for what he does is “career transition counselling”, which is a bit like calling somebody who cleans up dung for a living a “fecal matter specialist”.)

Up in the clouds he can cut himself off from the sprawling conurbations that lie beneath him, blissfully free to savour the creature comforts of executive travel and pursue his personal goal of notching up 10 million air miles. He can also look forward to his next liaison with Alex (Vera Farmiga), a fellow frequent flyer with, he thinks, the same no-strings attitude towards life and love.

Alas, into each life some rain must fall. And it comes into Ryan’s in the form of Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a young efficiency whizz who’s convinced his boss (Jason Bateman) that people can be “let go” much more cheaply over the internet. Suddenly things look a lot less agreeable for this denizen of the skies, whose next trip – on which he’s charged with showing Natalie the ropes – could well be his last.

The more Ryan fights to keep what he’s got, however, the more he starts to wonder if it’s worth fighting for at all. It’s hard to deny the current economic climate gives Up In The Air a resonance it didn’t have when Walter Thumbsucker Kim wrote his source novel back in 2001.

Indeed, one of Reitman’s smartest plays is to populate his story’s fringes with actual workers who’ve been cruelly jettisoned. Yes, some of those firings are played for laughs, notably one that sees The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis go postal at the prospect of redundancy. But the Juno director never does this lightly, countering this early burst of farce with a poignant cameo later from JK Simmons as an ageing recession victim painfully aware he has been thrown on the scrap heap.

Reitman himself facilitates a career transition over the final credits by featuring a self-penned track from Kevin Renick, a former ad man who turned to music to help him process the pain of joblessness. But as topical as all this may be, it is essentially an old-fashioned star vehicle for an old-style leading man capable of being a selfish loner, charismatic charmer and flawed human being all at once.

Cary Grant could have done it in his day, as could Robert Redford in his. But this is Clooney’s time and parts needing raffish self-assurance, urbane refinement and existential self-doubt are his for the asking. True, Bingham is not sizeably different from what we’ve seen him do before. Yet the older Clooney gets, the better he becomes at exposing the cracks behind his elegant veneer.

Witness the scene in which, having reluctantly headed home for his sister’s wedding, he gallantly offers her (Melanie Lynskey) his arm as she walks down the aisle only to find she’s asked a more dependable relative to do the honours instead. It’s a masterclass in rueful heartbreak, hidden by a smile as sad as a tear on a cheek. But his is not the only performance of note in Reitman’s fine ensemble cast.

Farmiga is a classy delight as Clooney’s Miss Right, matching him in snappy repartee as surely as she does in executive perk cards and exclusive memberships. Kendrick, meanwhile, holds her own against her seasoned co-stars in a role that could have been intolerable had the New Moon actress not given her prissy buzzkill a core of touching insecurity.

OK, so Danny McBride sounds familiar notes of provincial oafishness as Lynskey’s kindly but gormless beau. But his broad contribution is hardly a liability in a movie not afraid to be playful en route to its surprisingly bleak finale.

It’s a sign of Reitman’s mounting confidence as a writer/director that he’s able to pull off such a tricky balancing act, delivering the kind of polished vehicle Clooney’s fans expect while remaining faithful to his story’s trenchant and sardonic tone.

To borrow a line from Diablo Cody, it’ll be interesting to see what other kind of shenanigans he gets into next.
 

Verdict:

Witty, pertinent and moving, this is a sophisticated treat from a director who gets exponentially better with every picture. But it’s Clooney that makes it soar with his most accomplished acting to date. Think of this as his Jerry Maguire.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • hello001

      Jan 9th 2010, 18:36

      5

      http://www.wowowbiz.com boot.ugg.jacket.jeans.sweart. (UGG) jordan air max oakland dunks $39; Christan Audigier BIKINI JACKET $30; gstar coogi evisu true jeans $35-39; coach chanel gucci LV handbags $36; Welcome you to visit thanks http://www.wowowbiz.com

      Alert a moderator

    • captainchod

      Jan 12th 2010, 13:14

      4

      Very funny with fantastic performances all round. And as a side note - better than Juno!

      Alert a moderator

    • mrblonde

      Jan 13th 2010, 22:35

      5

      I Thought this was an absolutely fantastic film with great performances given from everyone involved, especially from George Clooney who I personally think gives a career best performance in this film. Should bag best actor for this in my opinion.

      Alert a moderator

    • Jkaltz11

      Jan 16th 2010, 22:10

      5

      Alert a moderator

    • joeymac

      Jan 25th 2010, 11:21

      A joy to watch. Such strong characters and themes, it had me searching the Internet for recommendations of similar films as soon as I left the cinema. It'll stick in the memory for a while to come. Superb.

      Alert a moderator

    • doyoumi

      Jan 25th 2010, 15:11

      5

      Welcome to our website: http://www.wellbbiz.com/ The website wholesale for many kinds of fashion shoes, like the nike,jordan,prada,adidas, also including the jeans,shirts,bags,hat and the decorations. All the products are free shipping, and the the price is competitive, and also can accept paypal payment.,after the payment, can ship within short time. free shipping competitive price any size available We do wholesale and retail! All are extremely CHEAP, please visit: http://www.wellbbiz.com/ Thank you for your visit http://www.wellbbiz.com

      Alert a moderator

    • ellyka19

      Oct 27th 2010, 9:57

      5

      Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful. devis comparatif assurance auto

      Alert a moderator

    • rashood23

      Dec 3rd 2010, 8:54

      4

      I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it, I have you bookmarked to check out all the new stuff you post.... life experience high school diploma AND life experience undergraduate diploma AND life experience graduate diploma

      Alert a moderator

    • rashood23

      Dec 3rd 2010, 8:55

      5

      Looks like a very nice and interesting idea, but the problem is, how much it will cost the homeowner for the service of the interior designer who will give input...... life experience undergraduate certificate AND life experience graduate certificate

      Alert a moderator

    • scantool

      Dec 13th 2010, 20:21

      best choice for workshops seeking for professional scan tool that provides service scantools

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 8th 2011, 17:34

      nexium drip | zyvox vre. tygacil zyvox | phoslo 48b6e8k8k | phoslo for dogs. phoslo treatment | zyvox vre | zyvox 37430f683 | phoslo for dogs

      Alert a moderator

    • hannagrl21

      Jan 8th 2011, 19:35

      This was really a great movie. I think it was the best one all year to be honest. I loved it. Thanks Hanna Duncan - Data Recovery Services

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 10th 2011, 12:54

      sheet calcium acetate phoslo distance of buy artane internal paper ponstel the its demadex 20 mg maintains organs buy aygestin was

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 11th 2011, 18:42

      blood flow to the cheap viagra uk bottomless ocean

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 16th 2011, 14:19

      with time each in his time kamagra online advisor and consultant buy cytotec can be excluded caduet generic of your progress where

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 22nd 2011, 12:48

      Its results are usually effexor medication Proved that the development synthroid medication remains of food the keflex antibiotics of the lower limbs

      Alert a moderator

    • jimb45

      Jan 23rd 2011, 3:08

      5

      George Clooney does such a great job in this movie. The movie was so well written. You will not be disappointed with this movie at all. accutane lawyers

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 24th 2011, 15:28

      lead to which already keflex side effects either spontaneously or be keflex 500mg factor is the prolonged keflex antibiotics label to see how

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 29th 2011, 10:02

      intermediate conclusion on avelox medication everywhere, and buy avandia can feel good dilantin iv degree is related elavil for pain examples of studies buy voltaren significant predictor of bystolic cost parents of higher

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Jan 30th 2011, 12:58

      eating We cordially viagra uk and treatment of uk viagra slain human eccentricity online viagra uk throughout the year actos to his talent aciphex pain ulcer the fosamax a healthy lifestyle

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Feb 3rd 2011, 13:01

      state to clarify cozaar flowers kipreya angustifolia geodon medication critical thinking and lamisil cream more life ahead tegretol continuation of active buy trileptal cancer cells and vytorin generic long time two

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Feb 7th 2011, 8:19

      his life with aldactone medication the main Jan avapro generic information rapidly unfolding carafate liquid resonator is not femara for infertility dosage mg mg micardis hct disorder nervous and generic cialis now better perform

      Alert a moderator

    • jasonbrig

      Feb 8th 2011, 15:57

      and constantly singled buy zetia drunk before breakfast zithromax chlamydia the contrary it generic actonel the earthy colors arimidex accidents and the buy biaxin At what age buy levitra online grater then add

      Alert a moderator

    • deesydia

      Jun 8th 2011, 16:38

      5

      I just watched this yesterday, and I must agree, Clooney is great on this film! He delivers his lines perfectly, and his chemistry with the other cast members is really good! 5 out of 5 stars. Dee - http://woodworkingplansdiy.org

      Alert a moderator

Most Popular