Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham is the best at what he does.  He fires people, from different companies all across the United States because the bosses in those companies know that things can happen when people get fired.  Ryan is a guy who travels some odd 230 plus days of the year to fire people from their jobs.  He spends at least two months at home each year in Omaha, Nebraska and absolutely hates it because he longs to be up in the air traveling to do his job because that is all he knows.  Ryan gets called in by his boss and he is introduced to a new woman named Natalie Keener who has revolutionized a new way to fire people in the United States.  Natalie’s genius idea is to fire employees through video conferencing.  Ryan hates this idea because it means he would have to be at home a lot more often and he also believes getting fired is the most personal thing that can happen to a person and that someone needs to be there for the employee being fired because it is the toughest day of their life.  Ryan in an attempt to prove he’s right tells his boss that she must learn our business before he can completely be sold by her idea.  Ryan around the same time meets a fellow traveler named Alex and they quickly fall for each other and embark on a relationship.  This movie is essentially about a man who has spent a large portion of his life up in the air away from the world and immune to its harsh realities and how coming back down for a visit both changes him and allows him to stay the same.

Up in the Air is a great film because it focuses on a small group of characters and a central idea that is universal to those who view the film.  The film’s main theme is human connection and how valuable that is in our lives.  This movie points out that there are those of us who in this world who tend to forget the bigger picture in life because we are so invested in our careers.  George Clooney plans a man who has no connections to the world outside of work and his sister’s.  When Ryan Bingham finally does make a connection with someone he doesn’t know how to handle it.  Clooney is essentially the teenager who spent his entire life home schooled and then gets thrown into the world of college and eventually work.  He has no idea what to do with the one genuine relationship he has formed and it’s a joy to watch him learn and struggle with his relationship with Alex.  The character of Natalie Keener played by Anna Kendrick is also an interesting one because she did something most people spend their lives trying to do; she followed her heart to be with the one person she loved.  She has an exemplary college record and is fighting to survive in the world of work and to a large part succeeding but like Ryan it takes her most of the film to learn the importance of human connection.  While both Clooney and Kendrick excel in helping director Jason Reitman tell this story of human connection the real stars of the film are the random everyday people they shot the “you’re being let go” scenes with.  The scenes in that small room with those people expressing the hardship they were soon about to face made the film especially poignant and at times heartbreaking.  For those who have a love affair with all movies George Clooney see it.  For this reviewer, human connection is my world and I’m just someone made a movie about how tenuous that is in our lives.

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