Reitman’s new film is a breath of fresh ‘Air’

Most people find comfort in the familiar; traveling is great, but there’s nothing like home. For Ryan Bingham, traveling is what is familiar to him, as he spends 322 days per year on business trips. He dreads the other 43 days he has to spend in Omaha, NE, in an apartment too barren for anyone to call it home. 

 Since its December release, Up in the Air has been nominated for six Academy Awards and has won a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. This unique film, directed by Jason Reitman (Juno) tells the story of Bingham (George Clooney, Ocean’s 11), who spends the majority of his days traveling around the country because his job requires him to help various companies fire their employees. When Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick, New Moon) invents a program that allows Ryan and his co-workers to fire people via video-chat from the comfort of their own offices, Ryan is outraged that his lifestyle is coming to an end and even more outraged when he is told that he will have to spend the last of his traveling days with Natalie by his side, showing her what it is like to fire people.

Natalie cannot understand how Ryan bears to live the way he does, but Alex (Vera Farmiga, Orphan), a woman whom he meets in an airport bar and also spends most of her time traveling for work, appears to identify with him. Ryan and Alex begin a fling that is rekindled each time their flight schedules coincide.

At the start of the film, Ryan is in love with his transient lifestyle, and the thrill of rarely having to spend a monotonous day at home. However, as this chapter in his life dwindles to a close, Ryan finds that he has nobody to fall back on, nobody to make his life special and nobody worth living for. After attending the wedding of a sister he barely knows, Ryan wonders whether this isolated life was really so great after all, and begins to warm up to the idea of its finish.

Clooney is an expert in his portrayal of Ryan, the man who thinks he has what he wants only to find that he has nothing at all. Kendrick is also wonderful as the naïve Natalie, whose innocence is shattered when Ryan shows her what it’s like to actually fire someone.

The cinematography in Up in the Air is excellent. The opening montage of aerial shots, as well as the clips of people being fired that follow it, is particularly effective in drawing the viewer into the movie.

Amidst many talented actors who brilliantly depict the quirks of their characters, Farmiga does little to make Alex stand out, causing the viewer to wonder why Ryan is attracted to her in the first place. Although Alex and Ryan have chemistry, Alex comes across as having a dull personality with limited interests and at times even seems to lack human emotions.

Up in the Air depicts a bizarre lifestyle that most viewers could not imagine living. This remarkable plot makes the movie seem surreal, despite the fact that it could be a plausible reality. What makes this movie so enthralling is the way that it makes the mundane magical.  Simply put, Up in the Air is an unusual masterpiece that one cannot help but enjoy.