Archive for January 21st, 2010

Up in the Air

January 21st, 2010
Up in the Air

Up in the Air

Rating: ★★★★☆

Movie: Up in the Air (2009)

Studio : Paramount

Info : Click Here

Runtime : 109 min

Website :

Trailer :


I once read an article in which George Clooney revealed that he sometimes sleeps in a closet with only his pet potbelly pig to keep him company. All that fame and adulation, I remember thinking, and yet he still sounds like a lonely guy. The same may well be said of Ryan Bingham, whom Clooney portrays so admirably in Up in the Air.

Bingham’s job is firing people on behalf of employers who haven’t got the chutzpah to do it themselves. An upmarket loner, he prowls the sterile airports and corporate offices of the nation, stoically clocking up as many employee scalps and air-miles as he can manage. Like any good sociopath worth his salt, he uses an expert line of bullshit to convince himself that he performs all of his duties with the utmost respect and humanity. Once he meets Alex, his soon-to-be lover and fellow traveller, however, cracks in the charming but smugly emotion-free facade begin to show.

The notion of home, and all that it entails, forms the gentle backdrop to the abrasive foreground of this movie. What is brave and refreshing about how Reitman depicts Bingham’s estrangement from ordinary life is that he does not ram it down your throat. It would have been an easy target perhaps to simply accuse Bingham of being the bad guy for firing people in recession-era America and to leave it at that. Instead Reitman builds a subtle web of choices into which Bingham treads at the same time as the viewer. How will he treat Natalie, the snot-nosed young Stanford upstart as he brings her out on the road for training? Will he ever have the balls to step up to the plate and declare his growing feelings for Alex? Thanks to Reitman’s taut and cliché-free direction, we learn the sometimes uneasy answers to these questions at the same instant as Bingham does and this keeps you on your toes throughout. In an age of predictable plots and unearned emotional resolutions this sort of approach to character – where you’re genuinely not sure what he will do in the end – is almost revolutionary.

Interestingly, the people you see being fired by Bingham throughout the movie are in fact all real-life employees who have recently been let go from their jobs. Up in the Air doesn’t lay out the political or economic reasons why this has happened – but it does successfully burrow under the surprisingly sensitive skin of the kind of character that eased it right along.

-Paul Meade

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