Directed by: Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
Ryan Bingham’s job is to inform others that they’ve lost theirs. In our nation’s current economic state, it’s safe to say that Ryan is a pretty busy man, traveling most of the year cross-country and occasionally guest speaking at hotels, teaching people how to live comfortably without commitment. When his boss informs him of young upstart Natalie and her intentions to ground the frequent flyer, Ryan’s forced to reevaluate the state of his life and, after meeting the lovely Alex, decide whether or not to disregard everything he’s stood by all these years and lead a better, happier life.
Few films have been so daring as to hold a mirror up to our society and expose parts of it for what they really are. Jason Reitman’s simply stellar Up in the Air is just that type of film, mixing equal parts social relevance and brutal honesty to make one of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences in recent memory. Aside from touching upon the ever-present economic ruin currently plaguing our country, Up in the Air uses the central character Ryan’s career as a means of exploring the importance of love and relationships to those who are too selfish to commit to anything but themselves, thus potentially forcing us as viewers to reevaluate the states of our own lives as well.
What also makes it stand out among the rest of 2009’s finest is its sticking firm in being as brutally honest as possible without going overboard and potentially displeasing audiences. In fact, it’s this wonderful sense of emotional honesty that gives the film another boost in aiding Ryan on his journey towards inevitable (and much-needed) self-realization. His interaction with those he meets along the way is also quite interesting, seeing as how each character seems to represent something he unknowingly pines to be deep down. Pair these things with an intelligent script complete with an appropriate sense of humor, and you have yourselves a true gem of a film.
Regardless of potential Clooney overload as of late, the man in question gives us a knockout portrayal of traveler extraordinaire Ryan Bingham. The chemistry between him and both female characters is pretty astounding as well as believable, further exaggerating the aforementioned emotional resonance that makes Up in the Air as good as it is. Farmiga and Kendrick’s characters, although polar opposites, are both equally appealing and portrayed as accurately as can be, allowing both actresses to spread their wings a little and bring an appropriate amount of humanity to each part.
In summary, Up in the Air is quite easily the best film of the past year next to my beloved (500) Days of Summer. Successfully combining several appealing, socially relevant themes, director Jason Reitman has crafted one of the most well-acted and emotionally poignant films of quite possibly the last decade. It might make you laugh, it might make you cry, but I assure you, what it won’t do is disappoint, so make it a priority to catch this one before your local theater decides to make more room for the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel. Er sorry, squeakuel.