Up in the Air follows the story of Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, who has the job of flying all around the USA to fire people. Spending 270 days per year travelling, he has become accustomed to, and even fond of, the life he lives travelling. This is questioned when Natalie Keener, the new girl at his company, tries to introduce some significant changes in how the company operates. This has some significant impacts for how Ryan’s work is done.
For me, the biggest stand-out of this film was the acting, particularly the performances given by George Clooney and Anna Kendrick, because they were very believable in their roles. The only moment where they were let down was in the scene entering the Hilton Hotel at Miami Airport where Anna’s character has a break down. While there is a good reason for the break down, her reaction seems a bit overdone.
One interesting part of the film is how it looks at the USA after the financial crisis of 2008, especially with all the lay-offs that companies are undertaking. Some of the impacts of being laid off are shown, with some being more tragic than others.
Another interesting part of the film is the opening and closing sequences composed of shots of clouds shot from above, as if from the perspective of a plane. This fits in with the significant themes of this film of flying and not being settled or fixed.
Failure to Launch
In this film, Ryan spends some of his time on the road having a fling with a fellow traveller, Alex. While Ryan’s desire to have a relationship is likely related to his isolated lifestyle, having a fling is a morally questionable way to go about having a relationship.
Overall, this is a good film with some superb acting, let down by one bad scene and some morally questionable actions by the characters.