Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, J. K. Simmons, Sam Elliott, Danny McBride, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Jason Reitman
Writer(s): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner
Cinematography: Eric Steelberg
Original Score: Rolfe Kent
Running Time: 109 Mins.
Okay, let’s get it out there in the open, Up in the Air does “deal with” the implications of our current financial situation, Clooney’s sentral character Ryan Bingham does fly around the USA firing people for those that don’t have the balls to themselves, so to speak and yes it features accounts from “real people” who have lost their jobs. But Up in the Air really isn’t about that, in the same way that Juno, director and writer Reitman’s last film wasn’t really about teenage pregnancy. Yes folks, this is another tale of the movie star who learns valuable life lessons, oh and falls in love in the process.
That though is a cynical summation of what is one of this years award front-runners, were it not starring Clooney it would be dubbed, “the little film that could”! And any praise Up in the Air has earns is quite honestly all worthy, largely down to the fantastic script that has the framework of a solid plot, albeit rather fragmented and melds every element together so that it works like a charm. Of course it helps that your leading man is George Clooney, the guy oozes charisma and thre is a strong possibility that were it not he at the film’s centre it wouldn’t have been half as good.
Yes he plays effectively the same role but when he does it so well and plays to his strengths like this there really is no-one better, that is not to belittle those surrounding him, Farmiga is effectively, as she puts it, Clooney’s character “with a vagina!” while it is Kendrick showing she is much more capable of acting than her handful of scenes in the Twilight film’s would suggest, but it is she who imbues the film with its heart, yes the plucky young upstart with ideas of technological revolution isn’t new but as with everything else in Up in the Air it is played to a tee.
Branching out from the central trio are the big(ish) name cameos that crop up, largely as ex-employees, or soon to be, Galifianakis and Simmons are most likely to be recognised but Danny McBride, Sam Elliot and Jason Bateman crop up too as various other minor (and often pointless) characters, most of the bigger laughs come from these guys, and sometimes they feel a touch too jarring in the overall plot, needless yet funny all the same. Though to say that the scenes where Kendrick’s takes it upon herself to fire one unknown vie webcam are the best rather calls to question whether “real people” should have been used in all the scenes whether it be for emotional or humouress effect.
Unusually standout is the editing, doing more than just compliment Reitman’s assured but unflashy direction we cut from air to airport to ground with such polish that it feels not machine like, but almost homely, clearly the intention as this is where Bingham IS at home, the check-in scenes in particular are standout, usually a thing of ritual boredom this is where Bingham is at ease, offering his protege handy tips that are very funny yet astutely observed!
If there is a gripe to be had it would be in the third act, where it looks like we may be facing that Hollywood fairytale ending, but just as you’re almost there be prepared to have the rug pulled from under you emotionally as Up in the Air gets the cracking pay-off it deserves, not at all crass but simply thoughtful, much like the film as a whole.
Up in the Air is a life and love story with a difference, playing both the romance and the laughs for subtlety rather than cheapness it exudes a warmth and truth rarely found in films, of course it helps when your leading man is George Clooney working with a script that good!