Friday, January 15, 2010

Up in the Air

Up in the Air starts out as a delightful comedy that becomes a serious treatise on life and what it means. It's still delightful, even at the end, because by that time, even though we find ourselves envying incessant air traveler Ryan Bingham, just a little bit, we feel a bit sorry for him when we realize that even his own family can't relate to him.

In his quest for 10 million air miles, Ryan Bingham fires people. In person. That somehow lessens the blow. This means that Ryan spends most of his waking hours in an airport or airplane, and that's where he feels most comfortable and alive. When young MBA whippersnapper Natalie comes in and convinces his boss to do the dirty deed virtually and cut all that flying from the budget, Ryan is incensed and insists she travel with him so that he can show her how it's done.

There are several really funny if not hysterical scenes in the beginning when we're learning about Ryan and what's important to him. He meets cute with Alex in a businessperson's hotel bar, and they share their acquired "wealth" of frequent flyer goodies in a very funny scene. He and Alex continue what appears to be a perfect union -- no seriousness, no promises or responsibilities, all wit and glamour.

I don't need to tell you that Clooney is perfect in the role, because, well, Clooney IS perfect. Not a hair out of place, not a smile ungenuine. The guy is golden in this part, and it takes a little bit of selling to convince us that Ryan does not have the perfect life after all. Vera Farmiga as his road girlfriend is also perfect, very charming and seductive but probably a very successful business woman. I found Anna Kendrick less convincing as Natalie, but perhaps because Natalie IS less convincing.

I don't envy Ryan Bingham. But I sure would love to be able to pack like him.

Thumb's up.


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