Fly Me to the MoonEvery year, Ryan Bingham travels to the moon and halfway back: in frequent-flyer miles, that is. Jason Reitman, director of indie fave Juno, is back with a bang. Up in the Air stars George Clooney as a anti-social jetsetter who works for a company whose sole purpose is to fire employees around the U.S. Set in the present-day, they are one of the only companies that stands to profit from the economic downturn.
Spending almost all his time on the road, Ryan Bingham (Clooney) has no personal relationships, no family (besides his sisters he never visits) and no problem admitting that he loves living out of a suitcase. However, when a young college graduate aptly named Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) arrives and informs them that video conferencing their terminations could save them millions, Ryan feels his lifestyle is in jeopardy. He decides that Natalie needs to see what it's really like to fire people face-to-face, and convince her that her method is tragically flawed. Meanwhile, he has frequent romantic rendezvous with fellow frequent-flyer Alex (Vera Farmiga), who he believes to be the female version of him. Sexy, detached, and turned on by status.
As his mentorship of Natalie continues, however, Ryan begins to realize that his backwards mentality about living with out attachment has left him alone, and without any one to catch him when he falls, or keep him company when he finds himself grounded in his "hometown" of Omaha. The premise of this film can seem daunting, but it is the exact opposite. We float along on a well paced trajectory with Clooney as he bumbles his way through his non-existent personal life and excels in his professional life. If there were a firing olympics, he would win hands down. The film slows down noticeably near the end, which feels mildly frustrating until you realize that you are meant to feel like Ryan does: stuck. Where do we go now? The film is a real study of American society during a recession, which is interesting considering Reitman is a Canadian. It is a document of the fall of capitalism, the games that people need to play and what happens when the rules change completely. Reitman is able to simultaneously make you chuckle and cry, a tragic comedy of the errors of the bureaucratic world. At its heart, however, the film is an examination of how important the people we love can be, however much we feel they may hold us back or weigh us down. In the end, when the markets have crashed and the economy is failing, all we are left with his the clothes on our backs and the people along for the ride beside us.