Up in the Air (2009)

DailyView: Day 293, Movie 414

I picked out a second film for the DailyView that looks at the career of the late Ivan Reitman, who produced this Academy Award nominated film, Up in the Air. Ivan Reitman’s son, Jason Reitman directed the film which starred George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) worked for a company specialized in employee termination. If a company needed help in releasing their workers, they would call the company and Bingham would go out and let the employees go.

On his trips around the country, Ryan met a woman named Alex (Vera Farmiga), another traveling professional. They bonded in a special relationship that they would carry on whenever they needed each other.

However, Ryan was called back to his office by his boss (Jason Bateman) who introduced Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). Natalie had a strategy to cut down on costs of travel by planning on firing people via videoconferencing. Ryan, who found himself most at home when traveling, was unhappy about the new process and he challenged Natalie to fire him. He went through several things that could happen during a video call that she was unsure about and his boss wanted Ryan to take Natalie on the road and show her the ropes, teach her the skill of firing people.

This, of course, led to several scenes between the two characters, looking at the different perspectives of their lives and their career choices. The movie was really a character study of a man who had isolated himself from any sort of connection and a woman who was trying to be successful in a world where isolating was helpful.

George Clooney is as charming as ever in this film, bringing his odd philosophy on life and making it seem to work. Clooney and Vera Farmiga were tremendous together. Vera Farmiga has never given a poor performance in my mind and she is just excellent in this movie, completely warm and welcoming despite being a female version of Ryan.

There was a sweetness to Natalie, through the work of Anna Kendrick, that let you know that she was not made for this business. Her struggle with the pain being leveled on the employees and her lack of understanding about how crushing firing these people were wound up being on display with some strong cameos. In particular, the scene involving J.K. Simmons was powerful.

Up in the Air was a film that featured some strong performances and amazing character development. Ryan grew a lot during the story and it made the ending even more impactful.

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