Up in the Air was my one hundredth film in the cinema this year, and as such already had an outsized degree of importance attached to it, and as I sit here trying to figure out what to tell you all about it (whoever you are, if you’re even there) I mostly just want to go see it again. And then possibly have a good cry. It felt very personal in a way I hadn’t expected.
Here’s what you want to know. It stars George Clooney. His character fires people for a living, and in doing so, he spends over 300 days a year traveling. Airports are home. His family are all strangers to him. His life goal is membership in an exclusive frequent flier club. But then a few things happen. His firm decides to go high tech & threatens take him off the road. He meets someone (the always-fabulous Vera Farmiga). His sister’s getting married. His airport cocoon is challenged, basically, and all against a background of things that are happening now in America.
It put me in mind of a line from “Wonderfalls”: “You have really managed to create a stressless, expectation-free zone for yourself.” There are expectations, but only professional, and nothing he can’t handle. People are okay and everything, but best not to let anyone get too close.
For about the first half of the movie, I was pretty irked by Anna Kendrick’s character (looks like she’s currently being wasted in the Twilight franchise), not through any fault of her own, but because I wasn’t really excited about seeing another young professional woman get schooled. And I was the only person in the theater to laugh out loud when she precluded remarks to Farmiga’s character with “I don’t want to sound anti-feminist, but”. And that she couldn’t grasp why someone wouldn’t want kids? Ridiculous. But she redeemed herself by the end, so okay.
It’s the third feature from Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno) & probably accessible to folks who didn’t like either of those. He manages a perfectly even tone, a challenge, considering the themes, and all the more artful for the apparent ease with which he carries it off. Clooney’s the unlikeable guy that you like, and if you’re me, the guy you identify with a little bit more than is comfortable.