Up in the Air: A Soaring Example of Effortless Drama

3 02 2010

Writer/director Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air was a critic favorite going into this year’s award season. While the film has been no stranger to award nominations, actually landing a win has been a bit more problematic. With six Golden Globe nominations, Up in the Air walked away with only one statue – for Reitman’s screenplay. Garnering a total of six Oscar nominations, only time will tell if the Academy will follow suit and leave Up in the Air high and dry. Here’s the breakdown:

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) flies around the country firing people. He’s never home, instead finding comfort in his organized and systematic travel schedule. All that is thrown into question when Ryan’s company decides to implement new business practices, putting an end to his nomadic lifestyle. Before his wings are permanently clipped, Ryan must show a new recruit, Natalie (Anna Kendrick), the ropes, all while balancing a jet-setting relationship with Alex (Vera Farmiga), a similarly chronic traveler.

The Monkey: This movie was quiet. I don’t mean boring and I don’t mean I couldn’t hear it. In the midst of films like Avatar, Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air is a breath of fresh air. With a solid script, award-winning performances from all three lead actors and the deft touch of a skilled director, Up in the Air is a textbook example of a good film.

The film mixes humor and drama so seamlessly that critics were surprised when the Hollywood Foreign Press categorized the movie as a drama instead of a comedy. It’s this balance between light and dark that makes this film so human, so real, so relatable. The drama wasn’t forced, the humor wasn’t set-up. Everything was very natural, organic.

The ending of the film was left ambiguous, and rightly so. Where does the main character go from here? The fact that there were two distinct directions for Ryan Bingham to go (and that both would be equally justified by the previous events of the film) is evidence of successful storytelling.

The Weasel: At times, the movie was almost too quiet. Clooney’s performance was subtle and well-crafted; however, there were moments when the audience needed something more.

Halfway through the film the central action shifts from Ryan’s interaction with Natalie to Ryan’s interaction with his family. The transition was a bit abrupt and the absence of Natalie was definitely felt during the last third of the movie. Why did her character just drop off the screen?

It’s always a treat to see a movie that stays with you after the house lights come up and Up in the Air did not disappoint. By touching on issues of relationships, job security and life-changing decisions, Up in the Air is able to connect, on some level, with everyone.

4 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Is Up in the Air getting overlooked by award shows? Share your thoughts about Up in the Air in the comments!

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2 responses

3 02 2010
Cassandra Okamoto

You saw it!! Yayy! I seriously loved it.. Did you hate Alex?? I seriously did NOT see that coming at allllll… So crazy. Glad you liked it 🙂

4 02 2010
Zillow Zollo

Nice review! While I liked the movie much more than I thought I would, I honestly don’t understand what all the hype is over. Clooney was pretty good but not amazing, and the rest of the cast were pretty average or forgettable. The story itself was a refreshing break from the usual, but not enough to make it a “Best Picture of the Year” in my book.

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