Up in the Air

Juno & Thank you For Smoking extraordinaire Jason Reitman has created with his most recent offering Up in the Air, a marketable philosophical critique of modern consumerism which is both studiously funny and virtuously attentive throughout. Already in receipt of and nominated for a multitude of accolades and awards, Up in the Air has proved paradoxically and simultaneously to be both a cult and critical box office smash hit, breeding buzz and momentum from the offset, George Clooney's predominant deliverance has once again managed to solidify his position as not just Hollywood royalty but the indie man s champion. Over the past few years Clooney has made a conscious creative effort to stay on top of his game, even if that means rejecting big time contracts in favour of a great scripts like Good Night, and Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Michael Clayton & Syriana, however he has successfully balanced such work with a sustained body of box office artifacts with the Oceans Trilogy and the occasional Rom-com for good measure. Furthermore, such cinematic equilibrium has constituted an event to look out when Clooney is flying high and especially when he is allowed the creative freedoms to flourish.

© Dale Robinette/Courtesy of Paramount

In addition to George, support is offered with the dangerously sexy Vera Farmiga as Alex Goran, (Clooney s troublesome love interest) and newcomer Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener (Clooney's nemesis but ultimately priceless companion). Both women offer substantial on screen presence and surpass the urge to just perpetuate the plot; they prove to be the antithesis and antidote to Clooney's clean cut social secularism and sleek business doctrine. This is though, both Clooney's and Reitman's film, as the latter not only directs but produces and co-wrote as an adaptation from Walter Kim s 2001 novel of the same name. The direction appears so effortlessly sharp in its cut and paste technique, never quite allowing you a chance to get bored, as it propels from one airport to another drama, the film is shot and edited to ensure invest-ability of both characters and ideologies. Ideology being the key word as behind the dramedy surface lays an underpinning of post-modern nihilistic existentialism (if that isn't a mouth-full enough).

The film follows Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a career-transition counselor essentially a down-sizer, the man who is contracted to fire you, which isn't such a smooth calling in light of the global recession, which this film very delicately plays upon. Apparently the production was under-way and then altered for accountability of contemporary events, in that Reitman ensured to show the plight of real people and the effects of epidemic unemployment and fiscal catastrophe. This is of course a particularly sensitive subject as millions of people world-wide are losing their jobs for no other reason than there isn't a job to do anymore. Clooney's Bingham has perfected the art of firing in offering his victims an epitaph of textbook bull-sh** with lines like Anybody who ever built an empire or changed the world sat where you are today.  Bingham appears to have no conscience of the effects of his work as he revels in the airport lobby lucrative isolation of constant domestic travels. Unlike most people s life goals of say marriage and kids, Bingham craves the Holy Grail that is the 10 millionth flyers- miles executive membership card.  Reminiscent of Martin Amis 1986 novel Money, Reitman s film celebrates the relics of consumerism as a substitute for emotional attachment as is so perfectly demonstrated in Bingham s free-lance motivational speaker job where he proclaims How much does your life weigh?

Up in the Air is literally up in the air out there in the stratosphere of a transitional life of balancing work with play and family. Bingham is forced back to the ground with a reminder that he isn't alone in the cold and calculated world of business when his remaining family offer him a wake-up call. The philosophical idioms of the script, play exceedingly well with the charms and allure of a George Clooney, which allows a platform for both punctuating comedy and dramatic realism, however for all the accomplishments of this film, it fails to properly tackle some of the issues it raises such as the suicide of some of the people on the receiving end of Bingham s rhetorical rigour and a true examination of the ramifications of corporate down-sizing and increasing impoverishment, as such films like Michael Moore s Capitalism: A Love Story tackles. But however, this is a dramedy not a documentary, and so it is a playful as well as serious critique on western gift shop philosophy, the importance of human relations and the effects of business as usual.

If you re after intelligent comedy balanced with effective drama as a side order to a main serving of a metaphysical post-modern critique of the contemporary western condition then Up in the Air is just right for you, it can be enjoyed as just a stand-out performance from Clooney, a quirky and inventive comedy about the subtleties of human relationships or perhaps as something more lofty which might require to pause for moment and ponder the above.

George Clooney Up In The Air Trailer

Up in the air is nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture :

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