Monday, January 27, 2014

Up in the Air (2009) [R] ****+

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) fires people for a living. His company is hired by other companies who must downsize their staff, but don't have the courage to do the job themselves. So Ryan travels around the country, living out of a carry-on bag, racking up frequent flier miles and firing people one by one. He's also a motivational speaker, and he understands what people are going through at the moment they learn they've been fired. He knows just what to say; how to ease people through the denial, anger, depression and bargaining, until they finally accept what is happening to them, and have the courage to move on.

Then Ryan's boss (Jason Bateman) introduces Natalie (Anna Kendrick) a new hire with a great idea: instead of face-to-face termination, they can do it remotely over a video link, with huge savings on their travel budget. Ryan thinks it's a terrible idea, so his boss forces him to take Natalie on the road with him, so she can see how the process really works. Along the way Natalie meets Ryan's girlfriend Alex (Vera Farmiga), Ryan and Alex attend his sister's wedding, and Ryan begins to understand how important human connection and companionship really is, and comes to realize what is missing in his life.

The film features Jason Reitman's and Sheldon Turner's smartly-written, Oscar-nominated screenplay, Reitman's sensitive, Oscar-nominated direction. and pitch-perfect Oscar-nominated performances by Clooney, Farmiga and Kendrick. Also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Up in the Air is the perfect film for this time in American history, when the country is suffering through the worst recession since the 1930s and many economists are convinced that most of the ten million jobs lost in the past decade will never return. Whether you are in your twenties and just starting your first job, or in your forties or fifties and consumed with anxiety about whether you might lose your job, this is a film you should not miss. 

Labels: drama, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 83/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=81, viewers=74)    

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