Fly away with fabulous acting and witty humor
Director and co-writer Jason Reitman, best known for the hilarious "Thank You for Smoking" and the adorable "Juno," works his magic again in this high-flying hit. Reitman bases his film around the cliché of "finding yourself," and yet the final product is surprisingly refreshing - a closer look at what it would be like to simply fly through life without baggage.
Clooney is marvelous in this role, keeping the audience sympathetic to his character. His sleek, simple life would be almost attractive until we see how much he misses out on family, friends and most importantly, love. Farmiga is similarly stunning in her role as Bingham's "mile high club" love interest, radiating confidence as she moves through the film. Kendrick, best known from her part in the "Twilight" series, is similarly flawless, though a single attempt at tears seems strangely unrealistic. She brings to life Keener's snappy wit and utter confusion at the life Bingham has chosen to live. At the same time, she is almost a younger Bingham, with the same mentality of being married to her job. She gives him the wakeup call that he needs, calling his life a "cocoon of self-banishment."
The script deserves special praise - every line hits with impact. Scenes shift quickly, cutting from location to location, keeping the audience on its toes waiting to see what will happen next. But the cinematography and editing really bring the film together. The opening credits show a montage of scenes shot from the air, setting the tone of the movie nicely. Meanwhile, the camerawork switches from the traditional camera angles to a handheld view that gives the movie an authentic feel. The scenes of Bingham deftly packing a small carry-on suitcase are cut to show how streamlined his routine is, an art he has perfected over thousands of flights.
Reitman brings to life the otherwise typical plot. While not a comedy per se, "Up in the Air" mixes its introspective examination of Bingham's life with witty humor that keeps the audience laughing. Keener's quips and retorts when she analyzes Bingham's life are unexpected but spot-on, and her zeal for her new job is equally hilarious. At one point, after watching Bingham fire yet another employee, she bursts out "Please, for the love of God, can I fire the next one?"
"Up in the Air" is an exceptional film. It gives a rare perspective on the important things in life: following your dreams and finding love, whether it is from family, friends or that one person that makes everything worthwhile. Reitman's direction is unparalleled, and while not exactly a movie for all ages, it's a definite runner in this year's Oscar race.
"Up in the Air" (109 minutes) is rated R for language and some sexual content. Now playing in theaters everywhere.
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