Thursday, 13 September 2012

Quick Review: Up In The Air

Jason Reitman's Up In The Air (2009) is one of those films I'd heard was good a few years ago and I was aware it had won awards, but I just never got round to watching. At least several times my boyfriend and I had got the DVD out ready to watch, yet always ended up watching another film instead. However, finally we put the film on and what a great film it turned out to be. Up In The Air is one of the loveliest, cleverest, most enjoyable comedies I have ever watched. Whenever I hear a comedy is nominated for an Oscar I usually find it's not actually that funny, but this really was, and then some. I found I was laughing genuinely instead of just finding some of the jokes slightly amusing, but also I wasn't laughing the entire way through, because there were moments of pathos where I got a bit teary. So there's a good mixture of things to expect in this film, and all of them are fantastic.

The plot is as follows: Ryan Bingham (Clooney) works for a company that is hired by other companies to fire it's employees. Bingham loves this life because it means he lives a life detached from reality and responsibility, he travels the world firing people, staying in hotels and has almost reached the 10 million air miles mark. The "dream life" he leads however, comes into jeopardy when a new employee, Natalie Keener (Kendrick) joins the team and pitches her idea of the company firing people via video call instead of needing to travel the world. Bingham of course hates this idea, especially having recently met the beautiful Alex Goran (Farmiga) who also spends most of her time in the air. So, the film follows Bingham and Natalie flying around the world doing their job in order for him to teach her how the job works, and how video calling people to fire them wouldn't work. A lot more happens in the film, but I don't want to give any of the film away.

The best thing about this picture aside from the brilliant script, is the cast. They really make the film come together and work as well as it does. The three leads are George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick. I first saw Kendrick in the Twilight films and even though I do not like those films I really liked her performance, and even though I didn't know who she was at the time, I remembered thinking how good she was. I also saw her in another, much better film this year, 50/50 (2011) where she played the therapist to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's cancer patient, and she was great in that role too. But here in Up In The Air she really gets her chance to shine and next to such experienced actors as Clooney and Farmiga, she gives a performance in the same league as them. She is a hugely likeable actress, very sweet and great with comedy, and she is definitely someone we'll be seeing a lot more of in future.

The gorgeous Vera Farmiga plays a very sexy businesswoman whose job consists of a lot of air travel time, like Clooney, and they both meet at the airport one day and as you can guess, sparks fly. I have only seen Farmiga in The Departed (2006) and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (2008) but in both of those films she was moving in her role and convincing, as well as being very likeable (like Kendrick). There's a classiness to Farmiga that you rarely see in actresses these days. I'm not saying that there are no good actresses anymore, there are many. However, very few seem to have this classy, almost regal quality to them, so it's a real breath of fresh air to see Farmiga in a film. Not to mention the fact that she is ridiculously beautiful. Anyhow, she meets her match in Bingham, for they are both not looking for a relationship, just the benefits of both being very attracted to each other, getting on extremely well, and also having the ability to meet up on the job because they both fly a lot to the same locations.

George Clooney is a great actor, and it annoys me that he is more famous for his love life because he is actually a very talented individual. As far as comedy goes, he takes to it like a duck in water, he makes it look so easy and effortless, for example in this film and Burn After Reading (2008). But he can also excel in serious drama like Syriana (2005), a film which he won an Oscar for, and where his performance can be described as nothing below mesmerising. He has also proved himself critically in his directing abilities with Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and The Ides of March (2011). So Clooney does have a very impressive filmography to his name, and his performance in Up In The Air is one huge gem in his career. He is perfect for the role, you really believe that this a guy that is loving life without the responsibilities, he doesn't bother with his family, he doesn't have a proper home, he just travels the world and does what he wants, when he wants. When he meets Natalie his philosophy on life with a family or a house etc being excess "baggage" (which by the way he gives lectures on) is put into question. The banter between Clooney and Kendrick is really great to watch, as well as his chemistry with Farmiga.

I will say no more because I will ruin the film and give the game away. But this is a must-see. It shows the life of the individualist coming to terms with the reality of his lifestyle, and the effect it has on other people (particularly his family). It boasts three wonderful performances from some of Hollywood's most talented actors (all of whom received an Oscar nod for their roles in this film). I put off watching this film for ages but I  am really glad that I finally gave it a go because I enjoyed it immensely. And the best bit about it? It didn't diverge into a typical Hollywood mushy ending, and not one part of the story was predictable. A truly great watch. My rating for this film? 9 out of 10/ 5 stars.

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