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HOT: Up in the Air

upintheair_posterUp in the Air does the almost impossible – it makes redundancy humorous.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate downsizing gun-for-hire who flies around the country firing employees for bosses who are too cowardly to do the dirty work themselves. He’s a smooth operator, full of pretend concern and oft-repeated platitudes but with just the right amount of emotional distance to move in, do his job, and move out. He loves his work, mainly because it allows him stay on the road with no responsibilities and no emotional ties, with all of his life’s necessities neatly packed in his carry-on luggage. (There’s a funny scene where he talks about how to pick the fastest line when going through x-ray security – so true!).

His life is about to be turned upside down though when his boss hires Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a keen and perky young graduate who suggests that business costs could be reduced if the terminations are done via video-conference. With his lifestyle threatened, Bingham takes Natalie ‘on tour’ to show her what it’s really like to fire someone.

In another strand of the story, one night in yet another random hotel bar he meets Alex  (Vera Farmiga), a sexy and intelligent business woman who also seems to enjoy living life as a constant traveller and shares his fascination with collecting frequent flyer miles and loyalty cards. They have a brief affair and then begin to meet up in various cities. Slowly Ryan realises that she has gotten under his skin and that maybe hisitinerant lifestyle has its drawbacks.

Suave bachelor George Clooney is the perfect actor for the character of Bingham. Our gossip-mag knowledge of the poster boy for commitment phobia means that Clooney can convince us that someone wouldn’t be able to see the advantages in marriage or having a home and loves living a transient lifestyle. He has great chemistry with VeraFarmiga and Anna Kendrick and the writing from Jason Reitman (director of Juno and writer of Thank You For Smoking) is sharp and witty.

It’s not all beer and skittles though. Notice that the timeframes in the movie (such as at the conference the characters crash) are dated 2010 even though the movie was made in 2009, a device which keeps the film’s themes contemporary. While you’re laughing, Up in the Air also highlights that real people suffer when they lose their jobs.  Some of the footage you see are interviews with people who’ve been terminated. So their pain, disappointment, anger and humiliation are real, and it’s sobering to be reminded that for many people losing their job is the worse thing that’s ever happened to them.

Up in the Air is sophisticated, humorous and relevant and I really enjoyed it. I’m predicting it’ll win some major awards.

I have some double passes to see Up in the Air – if you’d like to go, please send an email to jetsettingjoyce@gmail.com with your postal address to go into the draw. Good luck!

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