Monday, January 18, 2010
Up In the Air
It's possible that "Up in the Air," a comedy about the soul-deadening challenges of our disconnected era, could only have been made by Jason Reitman. After all, he turned teen pregnancy into amusing family fare ("Juno") and rendered tobacco lobbyists likable ("Thank You for Smoking"). So perhaps it's no surprise that he's come out with a lovely Hollywood romance that floats buoyantly along on a sea of sadness.
George Clooney is perfectly attuned to Reitman's tack, adding just a hint of a bruise to his slickly confident executive, Ryan Bingham. Ryan's job is to relieve others of theirs, and he flies around the country firing anonymous employees so their cowardly bosses won't have to do it instead.
But his own employment is threatened when his CEO (Jason Bateman) hires young go-getter Natalie (Anna Kendrick). She suggests Ryan's job could be done via video conferencing, which would ground him for good.
For Ryan, life on the road is the ideal existence. He gets first-class treatment everywhere, and never has to deal with the inconveniences of commitment. But as he faces increasing challenges to his solitary routine, including a relationship with another high flyer (Vera Farmiga), he's forced to wonder if it's finally time to put down roots.
Though the movie is based on Walter Kirn's 2001 novel, Reitman trades Kirn's caustic madness for a wry melancholy that better suits the screen. This version also incorporates our recessionary anxieties, but offers such a smooth ride we barely notice the turbulence until we're back on the ground.
A few scenes are overly broad or abrupt, and Kendrick works a bit too hard to compose her character. But Reitman handles the majority of elements--from big themes to tiny details--with a skillful blend of empathy and wit.
As for Clooney, an unexpected vulnerability deepens his natural charisma, while Farmiga turns out to be his onscreen soulmate. They create a connection that looks familiar, but is miles away from the rom-com relationships we've been trained to accept. It feels real, and in this prefab world, that's a rare commodity indeed.
By Elizabeth Weitzman at NYDailyNews.com
Read the original article here