Like many people yesterday, we went to the movies ( I know that lots of us went to the movies because the lot was full). Our choice of Christmas movies was the Jason Reitman directed and heavily award nominated Up in the Air. Reitman is the director of the much loved Juno. He co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced the movie with his father, the famed Ivan Reitman -- drector of Ghostbusters and Animal House, among others.
The movie stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a man whose job it is to fire people on behalf of bosses unable or willing to do so. In the course of this job, the unmarried, uncommitted, Bingham, who is known for his side job speaking about unloading your life's backpack -- so you can travel light, spends most of his life in hotels, airports, and airplanes. Considering the nature of the movie, it should not surprise you that he makes a stop or two in Detroit, which got some chuckles from our theater! Living in metro-Detroit we know the patterns of lay offs quite well!
The movie takes a twist when a new, young, employee played by Anna Kendrick, suggests that the company could save lots of money if it pulled its crew of professional "firers" home and use technology to spread the word. The comic nature of the film is seen, as Bingham takes her on the road with him and tries to show her the ropes, in part to prove to her that technology can't replace the personal in a job like this. I'll let you watch the movie to see how this works.
There is a second theme in this movie -- that of personal relationships. Knowing that he could be grounded, the man without home or family, begins to wrestle with what such a new life would look like -- and even contemplates a longterm relationship with a fellow "traveler." Again, you'll have to watch to get a sense of how that plays out.
There is a lot of comic genius in this movie -- we were left in stitches several times -- and yet there is also a deep sense of sadness in the movie. It is a reminder that life's road is not easily traveled alone. We can steel ourselves against the nature of our relationships, but we must continue ever on the go lest we return to the empty apartment and discover that we have no one there for us.
This is an excellent movie, well deserving the accolades. Clooney is wonderful, as is Kendrick. Other co-stars include Vera Farmiga as the co-traveler looking for a companion to escape the transitory nature of the journey -- but without the commitment -- and Jason Batman as the company CEO. Great movie -- go see it -- and I won't spoil the fun. But don't expect to see the tension of the movie resolved! Oh, and just a word of warning -- this is an R-rated movie, so there is a lot of "adult" language and one brief scene of partial nudity.