Sunday, April 25, 2010

Up In the Air

Up In the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009) [5]

Let's stop all the bullshit with this being some 'film of the moment.' From accounts, Reitman had been working on making this film before the economic meltdown and he fortunately stumbled into such a series of events that somehow makes it seem like he has the pulse of the current climate. In fact, Up In the Air fits perfectly into the current anxiety but like all Reitman's material, never actually manages to say anything important about what his film's are supposedly talking about. What you have here is a story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a smug guy whose job consists of going around the country firing people. In his frequent flier world, he has built up his own walled-in philosophy, the one element of the film that makes the most sense. His world gets thrown into turmoil by two events; one being a young hotshot (Anna Kendrick) convincing the company to fire people via video-conference, and the other being a romance with a fellow traveller (Vera Farmiga) who makes Ryan question the philosophy he's laid out for himself. The "prescient moments" of people being fired talking to the camera have really nothing to do with story. The biggest error Reitman makes is that almost all these scenes don't directly address the Clooney and Kendrick characters. This displacement loses any credibility that the film wants to have about having a message. With that particular hurdle out of the way, there are moments in the film that are not bad, especially Clooney and Farmiga together near the end. Anna Kendrick is the only real character that you could say works in the moment; she's a smart, pro-active idea person with no idea how the complexities of what she's doing will affect her or other people. That is something which could have been used more effectively. Jason Reitman is a competent director but he has a habit of taking socially relevant material and making it less effective for my liking. If everyone would get off thinking 'this is an important film' bandwagon, Up In the Air could have been an alright character study. But if you want this extra baggage attached to your film, than this is not what everyone thinks it is.

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