In the Picture

Up in the Air. Directed by Jason Reitman. Rated M.


Despite a couple of annoying women sitting behind me talking about someone called Sandra and her new Nissan, I knew I would like this film as soon as the opening credits flickered onto the screen.

The camera work showing American cities and farmlands shot from the air was beautiful in its patterns. These early scenes captured the style of the film (which reminded me of films from the 60s) and its themes of modern American life and flying.

Simple idea done well. Which pretty much sums up this film by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno).

Up in the Air is a sort of love story gone wrong. It’s a sophisticated look at modern life using the comic and the cinematic skills of the director and actors. The script bubbles with well-written dialogue.

George Clooney is a good actor and this film is a great vehicle for him. (And he looks like a film star from the 60s.)

He plays a complex character who has convinced himself that the rules of life are simple: travel light – no baggage, either material or human.

He is unmarried, unattached, has no home to speak of and happily spends most of his life ‘up in the air’ flying from town to town for his well-paid job.

But life ain’t simple – as he finds out.

George plays Ryan Bingham, who is a professional downsizer – that is, he is hired to fire people. His emotional isolation is an asset. He relishes his simple and solo life where all he carries is his bag, his credit cards and his airline tickets.

One night at a bar he meets another high-paid professional traveller (a very sexy Vera Farmiqa) and after sharing a few drinks and hire car hints he beds her. They both enjoy this casual, uncommitted affair and, after checking schedules, it continues.

But George’s world changes when a young woman (Anna Kendrick), a fellow downsizer who has big plans for their company’s future, accompanies him on one of his downsizing work tours.

This is a film about today’s America, where firing people who have served their companies well and where clocking up millions of air miles (and carbon pollution) is all part of business-as-usual. Where relationships are excess baggage.

Up in the Air follows Clooney’s tricky journey to love. And when he gets there, it’s not what it seems… (Is it ever?)

Funny, poignant… not a bad flick at all. (Even made Sandra’s friends shut up.)

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