Up In the Air

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This movie could not have been better timed, released as it was while we are still deeply mired in recession.  George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, the suave “career transition counsellor”.  He flies in to do the dirty work for corporate executives all over the U.S. who can’t stomach it – breaking the news to employees that they are being terminated.  We watch as, one by one, they receive the bad news.  And, one by one, as they react, it’s not the job loss that seems to be the problem.  It’s the loss of their family’s security, the unreturned loyalty, or the loss of health benefits that hurts most.  Using the same line each time, Bingham encourages his clients to see this as an opportunity:

“Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now.
And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.”

For Bingham himself, business is good.  He spends 322 days of the year travelling; and he’s got it down to a science.  He always knows which line-up will move fastest.  He never checks luggage.  And he never spends money unless he gets reward points.  In fact, the only loyalty that counts in this movie is consumer loyalty, and that’s all that is rewarded too.

But Bingham’s world is suddenly upset when two women enter his life, each in her way a mirror of himself.   Natalie, played by Anna Kendrick, is a 23-year-old Cornell grad who considers Bingham “old,” and who sells his boss on the idea of laying off workers more efficiently – by computer! Threatened with the risk that he’ll be confined to an office, Bingham takes her on the road to prove her wrong.  And Alex, played by Vera Farmiga, is an executive who, like Bingham, is a “road warrior” and enjoys elite status. “I’m you with a vagina,” she tells him.  As they journey together, Ryan Bingham has the opportunity to reconsider both his luggage and his destination.

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won Golden Globes this year for their adapted screenplay in Up in the Air, and have an Oscar nomination as well.  The dialogues are brilliant!  This is a movie well worth seeing!