Monday, February 21, 2011

Up in the Air

From News Blaze
I wasn't sure if there was enough to make this its own blog entry but I find, a day after watching this film, I have enough to say I think to make it worthwhile. This wasn't a movie I was particularly excited to see. It was more one of those films that ends up in my Netflix queue because I think it's one I should see. It was critically acclaimed when it came out last year and Clooney earned yet another Academy Award nomination from it.

The story follows Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, as he travels the country, firing people from their jobs. A new college graduate comes in and tries to change his business so he teaches her the ropes, showing her a lifestyle where attachments are a liability and loneliness a deal you make in trying to reach 10 million miles. However, through the course of the film, Ryan starts to realize that perhaps the relationships he'd always avoided might just be worth the trouble.

Honestly, the story was predictable. The great twist of the movie isn't a surprise if you are at all paying attention and the film dragged a bit in the middle it seemed to me. I liked the actors' portrayals of their characters and though you don't exactly want to, you like Ryan and feel for him as his world starts to turn upside down. I particularly enjoyed Anna Kendricks' portrayal of Natalie, the idealistic college grad who becomes Ryan's sidekick on the road as she learns the business. She ends up in his business because she followed a boy and gave up a job offer to do so. Her life hasn't turned out the way she thought it would and it falls apart steadily over the course of the film. She gets a happy ending; Ryan is not quite so lucky though there is hope on the horizon for him as the movie closes. 

I think what intrigued me the most in this film is it is a microcosm of the country at the time it is made. Ryan's business is firing people in one of the hardest economic climates our country has ever known. The reactions of these people and how Ryan handles it is fascinating to watch. Far more interesting than the personal lives of Ryan and Natalie. Ryan notes he never thinks to follow up after the firing, that his job is done. At one point though, the film goes back and check in with people we saw in the beginning. They aren't good but they aren't bad either; some note that it was a good thing in the end, that they landed on their feet. Others were not so lucky but know they will be in time.

Our infernal American optimism is hard to kill and I think that was what I took from this film. We get knocked down but we always seem to get back up. Even the crisis in the end, which happens off screen, doesn't dampen that feeling. In a climate that hasn't seemed to improve since this film as made, it remains a relevant watch and a thought-provoking one.

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