A REVIEW OF THE FILM 'UP IN THE AIR' directed by Jason Reitman, 2009.
REVIEW TITLE: A HEAVY BAG PLEASE.
Ryan (Clooney) works for a company that is hired to fire. He travels across the U.S frequently by plane to various offices to bring the bad news to terminated employees. Along the way he meets Alex (Famiga), another frequent flyer and is then accompanied by Natalie (Kendrick), the bright spark with great ideas to save the company money, but little real experience for which her ideas are targeted.
As with the film ‘Juno’ Jason Reitman gives us a razor sharp dialogue, a great cast and a soundtrack that could define your listening for the next couple of months (he’s becoming a good way to find out about new artists).
The chemistry between Ryan, Alex and Natalie (Kendrick) is thoroughly compelling viewing and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments as the cinema walls would testify. Yet Reitman does not fall in the trap of ticking all the feel good boxes. This is a sober study that is best described in Ryan’s inspirational lecture that he delivers between termination jobs. His lecture is titled ‘How much does your life weigh?’. He encourages people to pack the bag of life light, as in his own example. Do not be weighed down by material possession and the even heavier weight of relationships. Yet at what cost?
The director leaves this an open thought and I suspect the answer to this question will depend on the viewer. The director’s view becomes clear with the occasional over-sentimental sequences (that push this into romcom viewing) at the wedding of Ryan’s sister, when he falls well and truly for Alex, but furthermore when he gives a pep talk to his future brother-in-law. Where the film is more successful is in the sombre, slow paced moments. These moments show a confident composure of a director that does not need to fill every moment with a joke or lecture us with a message. Like a powerful orator, these pauses add to the message.
This is a very entertaining, yet sober romcom and I fully recommend it.