Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up in the Air (2009)

I'm a bit up in the air myself when it comes to assessing the merits of this movie.

Jason Reitman is the director who gave us Juno and has once again elected to score his protagonist's arc with irritating indie tracks, but which in this instance are manifestly disconnected from both character and plot.

The movie appears to start off as a mordant satire on executive lifestyles and loyalty schemes, with a rather of-the-moment treatment of the intimacies of corporate downsizing.

It looks as if it is going to have something interesting to say about the emotional impact of spending too much time in the 'dead' spaces of airports and business hotels, a theme which, whatever its various failings, Lost in Translation had handled well. But then it drifts away from the general towards the specific, and in the manner of an Alexander Payne movie focuses on the faultlines in Ryan Bingham's fast-tracked life that will bring out his inner loser.

The script is generally very good, but similarly disjointed, with a one or two bizarre, apropos of nothing gags ("Do you want the cancer?")

Clooney comes with his likeability, along with some of his Michael Clayton emotional edge, rather than the goofiness which has occasionally characterised his comic roles. (viz. Burn After Reading.) He works hard to make us feel Ryan's developing existential angst, but the character is ultimately shallow and when not complemented by the two women in his life, superbly played by Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga, is neither particularly engaging nor sympathetic.

Grade: B+

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