Up In the Air
Up In The Air has an all-star cast which received three Oscar nominations of the six total for the film, including Best Picture. Often times humorous and other times emotional, it features quick and witty dialogue with a unique storyline. That being said, it also does have its flaws.
Ryan Bingham’s (George Clooney) life is air travel and because of it, it is very orderly and systematic. Ryan’s job is to fly around the country to inform people that they are fired. He is very much alright with flying 270 days a year, in fact, he enjoys traveling in airports and different cities more than being at home.
Ryan meets Alex (Vera Farmiga) in an airport bar and the two first meet by quickly exchanging the differences between car rental companies as an attempt to impress one another. Then the two compare credit card reward cards before admitting they are two people that get turned on by elite status. They agree to meet each other in a couple weeks when they will be traveling closer to each other in another state.
Ryan returns home from his trip and does not forget to remind you that he does not particularly like being home. He is informed the next day at work that the company has decided to no longer fly workers around the country to fire people. Instead, he will be doing his job via video chat, thus grounding him at home and in his mind grounding his life. Not to mention shutting him down from the date he had just lined up.
So to no one’s surprise Ryan speaks out again this to his boss. It quickly involves the person who came up with the new plan, Natalie (Anna Kendrick). Natalie is a newly hired hard worker efficiency expert. She is very set on her way and lives life on deadlines both on and off work hours. She is a go getter and a planner and she blatantly says she does not mind being married to her career. She is not ashamed of it but does not want to settle in life.
Ryan convinces his boss into showing Natalie what he does on the road and tries to make his case that it cannot be done over the internet. She then travels with him to see what he does in person. He is trying to save what he believes his life is while at the same time she is trying to save the company’s efficiency.
Up In The Air finally reaches its most important part of the film when he is at his sister’s wedding. The groom gets cold feet and he is sent to deal with it. He talks people out of commitment and now has the task of talking the groom into commitment. Which is something he knows little about and you could say he is being a hypocrite because he has not subscribed to that way of thinking.
It was right about then he realizes that commitment is not as daunting and he thought. He has such a way with words; he more or less talks himself into it. Ryan realizes that perhaps he is ready to settle down with Alex after all. The only question left is has Alex turned over a new leaf as well?
Interestingly, the majority of the people we see getting fired at the beginning of Up In The Air are not actors (but obviously Zach Galifianakis is) but actual people who were recently laid off. The filmmakers put ads out and instructed people to treat the camera as if were like the person who fired them. I think that is a nice and creative touch to make it seem more believable.
After watching the film, I began to wonder if Natalie’s storyline even mattered. I believe they could have without her part. Although Anna Kendrick does a good job with this role, I don’t think it ultimately played any role of importance in the film.
The main idea behind the film is loyalty. The word was frequently in the background on airline advertisements. The airline, credit card and car rental places all have membership clubs that reward loyal customers. Both Ryan and Natalie are loyal to their jobs both have different views on what it means to be loyal in a relationship.
Up In The Air has an unique premise and good dialogue with acting that is beyond average but ultimately the storyline is a little bumpy. I am not sure if it is some ironic play on Ryan’s philosophy of empty backpacks and pointlessness but nearly every other character in the film besides himself is pointless. It was a well done film that should have been tied in together a little more.