Written by Jason Reitman

Directed by Jason Reitman

 George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick,



Up In The Air


The New York Times critic Mahnola Dargis calls “Up In The Air” a ‘stealth tragedy,’ a wonderfully apt phrase for this strange feature.  George Clooney, currently America’s leading candidate for the mantle of film icon (think Cary Grant), plays a man whose job is to fly around the country and fire people whose own corporations are a) too big; b) too chicken, or c) too uninterested in their employees to do it themselves.  Clooney, as Ryan  Bingham, has his own goal, which is not to fire the maximum number of people but to achieve the 10 million mark in airline miles – something only six other people have ever done.  So Bingham is constantly on the move, flying from city to city, staying at mid-range hotels, delivering the stunning news to unsuspecting people, then moving on.


One night in a hotel bar he meets Alex Goran, played by the subtle and brilliant actress Vera Farmiga – one of those women whose career was cut short by age --- that is, she’d grown out of the ingenue roles and was left – fortunately for us – to play character parts, as she does here, not using her looks but her talent.  She is also a road warrior, though not in Ryan’s field.  Her home is in Chicago, but she and he make dates to meet in Miami, San Diego, and maybe a dozen other cities where their schedules coincide.  One day he asks her to his sister’s wedding in Wisconsin, and she accepts.  He is transformed by the experience and begins doubting his own choice of life-styles.


In the meantime he’s been given as a kind of apprentice a young woman just out of Cornell, Natalie Keener (played by the very good Anna Kendrick, who has her own innovation to try out – namely doing it all by teleconferencing, thereby saving on all those air fares.  What works out and what doesn’t quite, in “Up In The Air,” I’ll leave to you to see for yourself.  Let’s just say the phrase ‘Stealth Tragedy’ is accurate and leave it there.  The film was written and directed by Jason Reitman, who made “Juno” and “Thank You For Smoking.”  He knows what he’s doing.