I never had the opportunity to watch this film when it first came out–though I heard good things about it–but thanks to the good ole Black Friday deals, I was able to snag this film for only 2 bucks! To my pleasant surprise, it was a rich and beautifully-filmed film of seemingly minimal stylistic techniques that follows the life of Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, who fires people for a living and spends a 322 days out of a year in the air, as his only goal in life is to collect a significant amount of miles.
What really held me onto this movie was its ability to touch on such big themes like the mass of unemployment, cultural alienation, and the technology crutch, honing in on the loneliness of traveling with a light air of humor and satire brought from the opposing perspectives of Bingham and young, ambitious, and incredibly sophisticated Natalie Keener, played by Anna Kendrick. I particularly loved Kendrick’s role in the movie, as she was the most relevant character to me–hung on youth, high hopes, dreams and ideals–bringing a little naivety and fragility to the hard-wrapped story of elder businessmen and women who simply do their jobs and know it from all the “ins” and “outs”.
This is one of the few really good movies I’ve seen in a while as it really provides a statement on our culture today. It touches upon all ages, as it provides a glimpse into the lives of older people invested in their jobs, and touches on the high-hopes the youth attach themselves to… One critic from USA Today writes,“It’s tough to capture an era while it’s still happening, yet Up in the Air does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity … capturing the nation’s anxieties and culture of resilience.”
It’s a subtle piece of work that blends “entertainment and insight, comedy and poignancy, even drama and reality, things that are difficult by themselves but a whole lot harder in combination,” as theLA Times writes.
This movie deals with heavy issues in a way that makes it “lighter” to carry, and watch–much of what we ourselves do in our everyday lives. From isolation to workplaces to marriage to commitments to ambitions and dreams to high hopes and let-downs… This movie examines life at what it really is in the real world–and for one thing, I’ve learned that it’s Ok to be just as hopeful and imaginative and ambitious as I may be. I’m young, still trying to find and discover and establish myself in this world. Having high hopes is natural.
Ryan Bingham: You know why kids love athletes?
Bob: Because they screw lingerie models.
Ryan Bingham: No, that’s why we love athletes. Kids love them because they follow their dreams.
And perhaps the little disappointment Ryan feels later on in the movie just goes to show that you can’t entirely trust everything that seems to be as good as it seems–the real world isn’t as candy-coated as we’d like.
A good film that I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed in watching. Although it began to lose some of its steam in the latter half of the movie, there’s something strikingly beautiful and painfully true about it that leaves you with, perhaps, some new philosophy regarding work, love, life, marriage, travel… Whatever you want to leave it with.