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Saturday, March 6, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW - Up in the Air

There’s a lot to be said about a film that examines the philosophy of living space. Materialistic living and courtly relationships have to be questioned without resolve in order to pull off the idea that there are many ways to go about one’s life. Up in the Air does just that—Without turning in to a giant cliché of any given film genre, director Jason Reitman’s latest masterpiece is relevant enough to tantalize the hearts of those unsure about jobs, relationships and, ultimately, where the hell to go in life.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) travels nearly non-stop from city to city to “dismiss” people being laid-off. When his frequent flyer miles plunges him in to a potential relationship, (Alex) an ambitious, but a naive new co-worker (Natalie) shadows him and prompts him to look at his happy seclusion in a different light.

Once again my vague synopses put readers at a disadvantage, but to divulge any further would take away from the films’ experience. Furthermore, as preachy as I make this movie, it actually stays away from being over-bearing. Instead of feeling like a pretentious art house boob with unrelatable insights, it reaches far in to the climate of today’s troubles and beyond.

Clooney’s Bingham is the man everyone does and does not want to be. He twists and turns throughout the movie with a slow exit from certainty. Is living on the move from one hotel to another really what he wants? Is Natalie’s American dream more likable? Is Ryan’s poor, underprivileged brother-in-law’s quest for love-over-success worth it? Like most modernistic films there’s not so much a straight answer as there is an examination. And there in lies the beauty of Up in the Air—It really is up in the air.

One of Reitman’s great talents is always pulling out the best of characters in the worst conditions, and what’s great is that their choices are never predictable! If Juno was his take on adult-like adolescence, Up in the Air is his extreme evolution of characters from Thank You for Smoking. Bingham, like Eckhart’s character in Smoking, is suave, smart and more professional than your dad on career day. But later on the many roads of life haunt him; though he ushers those who have lost jobs to take different paths every day, the same suggestion causes him to lose a focus many people can relate to. (Don’t tell me you’ve never looked at the ceiling and wondered, “What the hell am I suppose to be doing/should do/want to do.?” Angst. Tears. My Chemical Romance. All that fun stuff.)

Thankfully, instead of telling the audience there’s only one correct path, Reitman leaves us with a mesmerized Ryan Bingham, looking at the different paths he could take for his future. Reminding me of Cast Away's ending, Up in the Air throws a whole list of air travel destinations instead of a three-way road. I find Bingham’s choices a little more realistic. Sure such a list can be overwhelming, but when is life not overwhelming? Plus look at all the fun destinations! I really enjoyed where Reitman went with this film and if he continues this type of quality he may end up being one of the very best modern directors of our time. If it's not his best film, it's close.

**** out of ****

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