Monday, May 21, 2012

Up in the Air

Up in the Air; tragicomedy, USA, 2009; D: Jason Reitman, S: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman

Ryan works in a corporation that informs employees around the US about losing their job since their bosses are too afraid to do it themselves. He travels a lot and it suits him perfectly since he is detached from the traditional values such as a family, a wife or a fixed setting. On his travel, he meets Alex and starts an affair with her. When Ryan's work colleague Natalie "infects" him with the idea of marriage and a lifelong companion, he starts to deepen his relationship with Alex. However, it turns out she is married and already has a family.

Winner of a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for best screenplay as well as an New York Film Critics Circle Award for best actor (Georgey Clooney), "Up in the Air" used the late 2000s financial crisis not only as the basis to build the storyline (dozens and dozens of real life people who lost their job appear as extras in the movie in order to express their anger and resentment over such an outcome towards the protagonist Ryan whose job is to fire people in a rather clumsily invented fantasy job almost set in an alternate reality) but also as an wider allegory of the way of life in corporate capitalism where everyone is "replaceable" not only professionally but also privately, romantically and emotionally - evident in the ironic twist ending. Even though it not as strong as Reitman previous film, "Juno", and even though it has a messy start, "Up" slowly advances into a fine little humorous drama about loneliness and the absence of true love - an unusually frequent theme in Clooney's movies - and reflection about differences between living a traditional and unorthodox, 'detached' life. The best ingredients of this 'slice-of-life' movie are naturally those authentic ones, when characters talk like adults, such as when Natalie asks Ryan why he never thinks of getting married, and he asks her to try to "sell marriage" to him, the final monologue ("The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over...") as well as the neat idea of Ryan making photos of paper clips of his sister and her fiance in front of places they never were. Occasionally artificial and uncertain (the luggage speech is pointless), but overall a fine little film with a strong ending that says something about two people living on two different wave lengths and not even realizing it.


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