'Up In The Air': Life, No Strings Attached

George Clooney in 'Up In The Air'

Last Call: George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a corporate hit man hired to fly around the country and fire downsized employees. A frequent flier and a professional drifter, Ryan leads a life devoid of attachment. Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures

Up In The Air

  • Director: Jason Reitman
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Rated R: Language and sexual content

With: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick

Up In The Air makes textured filmmaking look easy. It blends entertainment and insight, comedy and poignancy, even drama and reality, and never seems to break a sweat.

Up In The Air stars George Clooney as Ryan, a corporate hit man who flies around the country firing people for companies who are too timid to do it themselves. Ryan loves the soothing predictability that goes with high-end business travel. At home in airports and on planes the way few people are at home anywhere, he's made a science of security lines and moves cards through optical devices like scanning was an Olympic sport.

Two women throw Ryan off his confident stride. First is a whip-smart number cruncher from his office, played by Anna Kendrick, who questions everything he believes in. She's frankly dubious as he tells her about his personal quest for 10 million frequent-flier miles.

Then Ryan catches the eye of a business traveler named Alex, who shares his love for frequent flying, and who is as passionate about the system as he is.

Played by the exceptional Vera Farmiga, Alex is so much Ryan's psychic twin that he finds himself synchronizing schedules with her so they can share steamy airport rendezvous.

Credit for all this goes to writer-director Jason Reitman, who used a novel by Walter Kirn as his jumping-off point. The question Up In The Air gracefully poses is whether Ryan's detachment can survive contact with genuine emotion.

The answer turns out to be gratifyingly complex, a further reason to celebrate a director who has filmmaking in his bones.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.