It’s in the air, award season that is. The studios have brought out their big guns, what they consider to be the high caliber films of the year. More often than not, the movies that get the most attention are due to the actors’ performances and this year is no different. Writer/Director Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air is garnering much recognition, especially with five Golden Globe nominations including film of the year and a best actor nod for George Clooney. This is the third critically successful venture for Reitman, staying faithful to his film festival formula as previously accomplished with Thank You for Smoking and the Oscar winning Juno. He also is keeping in line with his charming technique of blending comedy and drama in his storytelling. Although there are many similarities throughout his films, Reitman may have successfully made his most poignant and generationally classic film to date.
Ryan Bingham (Clooney) is a man who loves his job. It gives him the freedom to travel constantly, never being tied down and always moving on to the next destination. He, unlike many other business travelers, loves his permanent flying status, embracing his role as the middleman for other companies. However, for practically all other employees, he is considered the kiss of death. Bingham is the forerunner in his business, a business that specializes in the termination of employment for other companies. Like a sudden tornado touchdown, Bingham arrives, delivers the devastating news and then just as quickly as he appeared, he’s gone and off to the next city. If it weren’t for Clooney’s charismatic portrayal and the story’s focus on his personal life, Bingham could come off as a cold, heartless creature. But he’s quite the opposite, becoming a fortune of hope encased in a bearer of bad new. Beyond his business tactics, a glimpse into Bingham’s world shows a man cut-off from developing relationships, avoiding a home life, and instead becoming intent on accumulating as many flight miles as possible. Again, this odd goal could make Bingham come off as distant, yet it only serves to develop an appreciation of the man.
It is said that behind every good man is a better woman. It’s true, and in this case Bingham receives two female advisors. His love interest, played by Vera Farmiga, is not only his counterpart but, in more ways than not, more indebted to the traveling business lifestyle. Bingham’s new trainee in firing operations, Natalie (Anna Kendrick), questions both the effects of his business and the ways of his personal life. Both women serve to unbalance the equilibrium of Bingham’s life and each actor really exceeds in every scene. No wonder both women are up for supporting acting Golden Globe nominations as well.
Up in the Air deserves all the accolades that it has already received because of not only the pitch-perfect performances, but also due to the focus on our economic times. It incorporates the human emotion of our social fiasco beautifully, by talking straight to the audience and maybe becoming a healing tool for some. It is another winner from Reitman and possibly a classic in years to come.
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