Movie Review: Up In The Air
I know this movie first came out in the US around Christmas, and I’d wanted to see it for a while, but we just now got a chance Friday night. In looking for a showing, I found it only at a small pseudo-art-house kind of place in Bermondsey Square, about 1/2 mile south of Tower Bridge. The cinema (where, like others in the UK, you can take a glass of beer to your seat) turned out to be a) intimate (50 nice and cushy seats only) and b) only £6/person, compared to £9 or £10 at the regular places. Although I knew I wanted to see the movie, it was a very pleasant surprise – I highly recommend it!
Let me see if I can explain why I liked it. Up in the Air truly feels real (capturing some of what you get in Office Space, although perhaps even more real thanks to showing real places and real brands like American Airlines, Hilton Hotels, and Hertz Rent-a-Car). It is funny throughout, although in such a way that is respectful of the rather serious themes (people losing their jobs, lonliness, human connctions, etc.), and in a way that is smart and engaging as opposed to hitting viewers over the head. The more dramatic aspects of the film, especially the romantic angle, was developed nicely, and – not to give anything away – does not end in picture-perfect happiness, which I almost always prefer to some fakely oversweet, unrealistic neat-and-tidy outcome.
In addition, the dramatic side of the film is developed with a family story. Although the story is fairly standard and obvious, it is painted in a way that is clear and simple and powerful. Let me say a few words, too, about the stars. I think George Clooney is one of the best of our time. I didn’t say best actor, because, to be fair, he does often seem to be playing George Clooney, and you do often find him in roles that require his patent slick-and-suave persona. Given that, he is perfect for this role, and very enjoyable on screen. Vera Farmiga actually has a harder job, I think, and is brillant as not just his female interest but also, ultimately, a character with a lot going on herself. Finally, the score is quite pleasing, and sets a nice tone for the film.
Overall, this was an incredibly enjoyable and thought-provoking film, combining a good sense of reality with both comedy and drama. Now I’m anxious to read the book that inspired the film, a 2001 novel which is quite different but clearly from the same lineage. If any of you have seen the movie and have an opinion, I’d certainly like to hear it!