By Sean Harris ’11
Could a person survive if they cut themselves off from society? And would they come out the better for it?
These are questions asked in Jason Reitman’s new film “Up in the Air,” the man who directed the quirky breakout comedy “Juno.” And while the film might not reach the audience that “Juno” had, there is still plenty to like.
The plot of the movie involves Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man who makes his living off of firing employees when the company refuses to do so.
Living this way takes a significant toll on Bingham’s actual life since part of his job requires him to fly all over the world. However, Bingham does not seem to care; he even takes pride in his frequent flier miles.
A big change comes in the form of Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who has a whole new approach to firing people. Convinced she does not know what she is doing, Bingham shows her the ropes.
It is only after Keener’s new system takes off that Bingham realizes that his life is empty.
The movie excels with its characters, specifically what the characters have to say and how they act; to expect less of Reitman would seem ridiculous.
Clooney gives a great performance. He seems to be an enlightened cynic at the beginning of the film and he slowly dissolves into an empty shell of a man, a transformation that is made all the more real due to a very depressing but realistic ending that breaks many typical Hollywood conventions.
Another standout performance is given by Kendrick, who serves as a perfect opposite for Clooney’s character.
While Bingham wants to keep the personal touch in his work, Keener is all about efficiency that comes from her not actually experiencing the grief that people feel when they are fired.
It is for this reason that the second act of the film is the best; watching the two characters work off of each other can be laugh out loud funny at moments and terribly depressing in others.
However, the third act of the movie suffers due to the absence of Kendrick and the way the film meanders along until Bingham can learn from his mistakes.
That being said, “Up in the Air” is still a very original movie that boasts strong characters and performances.
4 out of 5 horseshoes.