Come fly away with George

UP IN the Air is the latest film from Jason Reitman, who is quickly building an impressive back catalogue with films such as Thank you for Smoking and Juno introducing cinema-goers to unique tales exploring various aspects of modern life. His latest can also stand alongside those titles as having the tendency of showing glimpses of greatness, but falling short at the final hurdle to achieve the status of ‘very good’.

The problem is the film doesn’t leave enough resonance in the mind of the viewer, as the great films often do. The Oscar-buzz surrounding George Clooney’s performance sadly, is a little unfounded. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good performance, it’s just not worthy of an Oscar.

He plays Ryan Bingham, a man whose job it is to travel the length and breadth of the US telling people that their boss across the hall has decided to let them go. That’s only secondary to his purpose in life though, which to amass 10 million frequent-flyer air miles. As he says, his home is the airports and cheap sushi joints within them. He’s not a man for introspection, and he’s not really forced to look under the surface until brash young thing Natalie (Anna Kendrick) enters the picture with a bold plan to increase efficiency by firing people via video link.

This will make more sense later

George Clooney ultimately plays George Clooney, one of the risks of over-exposure. He emits charm which is the backbone of his performance, but cannot derive any great emotion from the character. You feel for the character, but only from an aloof, almost academic viewpoint.

Thematically, there are several moments which make you think ‘I see what they did there’, and there are some great touches throughout the film. The fact that Ryan is starting to go through this change when he’s ushering people through an abrupt life change of their own is a great touch. At one point, he has to lug around a cut-out of his sister and her soon to be husband, but lo and behold the cut –out doesn’t fit in his luggage.

There’s no room in his baggage for his family or marriage. Oh, I see what you did there Reitman.

'Be like me, I have very little baggage'

There’s also a great deal of wit and good banter between the characters with the clash of egos between the young and inexperienced Natalie and the old and stuck in his ways Ryan being almost the price of admission alone. Example,

NATALIE: That bastard just dumped me via text message!

ALEX: A text message? How awful.

RYAN: Kind of like firing people via video-link.


ZING!  Up in the Air is something you should definitely go and see at the cinema, as it’s an interesting movie full of witty banter and enough intelligence to make it worth the $14.50. Just lower your expectations though. This isn’t a modern masterpiece on the alienation of modern life. If you want that, rent out Lost in Translation. George Clooney’s performance does not warrant an Oscar as ultimately he, like the film, doesn’t land enough of an emotional punch this film sorely needs.

- James McGrath



No one has commented yet. Be the first!