The current economic climate is making the need to downsize a harsh reality for many people, so there is perhaps no more timely film than Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. Starring George Clooney as the opposite of a headhunter, Anna Kendrick as his protégé (or is he hers?), and Vera Farmiga as the woman Clooney meets while logging frequent flyer miles, Up in the Air should strike a chord with almost every viewer.
Clooney’s portrayal of Ryan Bingham marks something of a departure for the actor, who has routinely played cocky, charismatic characters, but (on the big screen, at least) has not struggled. Here, he does when new kid Natalie (Kendrick) proposes dramatic changes to the way that Bingham’s work is done. Determined to avoid being marginalized the way the people he lays off are, Ryan allows Natalie to tag along as he goes out on the road, traveling from city to city to deliver the bad news in person to workers from coast to coast.
Along the way, Ryan meets and becomes involved with another frequent flyer, the vivacious Alex, played by Vera Farmiga, who seems to have the same transient existence that he does.
The three leads deliver strong, appealing performances, as does Jason Bateman as Ryan and Natalie’s boss, but the writing is the real star here. Witty, engaging and at times hysterical, it softens the blow of a harsh reality that so many of us are facing.
There are some predictable twists here, but amongst all the gloom and doom both in real life and on most movie screens this season, Up in the Air is a breath of fresh air.