Up in the
Air – Film Review
HOME IS WHERE THE AIRPORT IS
by Kevin Bowen
published December 6, 2009
Up in the
now playing in limited release
opens nationwide on December 25
The word on the street is that Up in the Air captures the way we live in a downsizing world.
The thing that you must realize is that the critics saying
this mostly have worked for newspapers or print publications. They work in a notoriously fickle industry that is currently going through
financial and existential crises. So a movie about downsizing that follows a corporate downsizer is going to feel intensely real and relevant
to those judging it.
Up in the
Air creates a world of airports as palaces of disconnection. Ryan Bingham is the crown prince. He
keeps a hotel room in
Omaha to keep the IRS happy, but the terminal is the only homes that he really knows. It’s there that he meets and falls for the Gold Club
version of the truck stop floozy (a splendid Vera Farmiga), who coordinate their stopovers to maximize sexual enjoyment. His way of life is
threatened by the just-out-of-school whipper-snapper (Anna Kendrick) who thinks it would be more efficient to fire people over the Internet.
She tags along with Bingham’s traveling show to learn the ropes.
Up in the Air is not a
terrible film, but it is liquored up in seat 27D with smugness and self-congratulation. It also has tonal issues – flying and trying for
dramedy, but its jocular script too often battles with its serious setting. So does Kendrick, whose chatty insecurity routine is about
as one-note in acting as it comes.
Clooney has several very good scenes, notably firing a man
while encouraging him to follow his youthful dreams. Farmiga is the real highlight – you wonder if this will launch her career more
successfully than The Departed. Jason Reitman’s hand is steady, his framing solid. He wants
to be a classic studio director, using the model of Billy Wilder. That means the film has only so much adventure or personal touch. Perhaps
that’s fitting for a film about modern dislocation.
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com