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Up in the Air (2009) Movie Review

December 21, 2009

If you’ve been paying much attention to the news lately you have likely heard about various companies firing employees.  “Up in the Air” is about a man who makes his living firing other people when their bosses don’t have the stomach for it.  Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) spends his days flying and sleeping in hotels as he travels from city to city where his job takes him.  To anyone with a family, the idea of spending 90% of your time away from home would seem like some form of inhumane torture inflicted by only the most heartless boss.  Yet to Bingham, this life is what he knows and avoiding relationships and commitment is how he keeps himself sane.

Bingham finds his life thrown a loop when he meets a woman named Alex Goran (Vera Farniga) who lives a similar life away from home and is interested in some quick sex on the road.  Around the same time, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a young new hire at Bingham’s company suggests a technological upgrade.  According to Keener, it is a waste of precious resources to send people flying to various cities to lay off employees.  It would be much more efficient to fire people by webcam because then all the work can be done from a cubicle in an office.

Both of these additions to Bingham’s life make him question his routine and settled way of life.  The thought of having time to spend at home scares him because he has lived his life so disconnected, while spending time with Alex makes him realize he is lonely.  The movie stays interesting thanks to some well-written characters and solid dialogue.  Deep issues such as how to be happy in life and the purpose of relationships are explored through lengthy arguments between the main characters.

The soundtrack, composed by Rolf Kent, is minimalistic and serves its purpose well.  The score never takes center stage or presents any melodies or themes you will likely remember.  George Clooney, Vera Farniga, and Anna Kendrick are great in their roles.  Clooney exudes his typical charm despite his overly cynical character.  Kendrick’s character manages to retain her naïveté in spite of the setbacks she faces in the movie.

The movie sends a message that relationships and family ties are a lot more important than Bingham presumed.  While I found much of the film to be enjoyable and it never dragged, I can’t help but feel like it was missing something.  Perhaps I would have liked a happy ending and more resolution to the characters.  Aside from the abrupt ending and lack of wrap-up, the movie is mostly solid.  Fans of George Clooney will find that he more than makes up for the price of admission.  If you don’t mind a slightly depressing plot, there is a lot to enjoy from “Up in the Air”.

4/5

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From → Drama

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