james debate
james debate

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Directed by Jason Reitman
Written by Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Walter Kirn (novel)
Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
Release date(s) Out Now
Running time 109 minutes

Up in the Air is the latest film from Juno director Jason Reitman, and has been receiving some serious oscar tips in recent weeks. Can this inexperienced, but promising director finally deliver an oscar winning performance from George Clooney?

up in the air clooney reitman

I liked Juno, I thought it was an excellent film in many ways. At the time most of the kudos went to Cody for her screenplay, more because of the interesting story behind her career than anything else, but for me it was Reitman's quirky visual style that made that film truly memorable. So I was pretty excited about seeing his latest effort.

Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a corporate assassin whose job consists of flying all over the country to lay off employees. It's a story that's very relevant for our times, characterising both our economic fragility and delving into the world of aviary commuters, jet setting all over and ultimately spending only a few days at home each year. It's a no strings attached kind of lifestyle that suits Bingham, or so he thinks.

We follow the man in his travels and sit in on the frankly crushing, life ruining nature of his work that has become so familiar for many in the past two years. But what is really remarkable is how sympathetic the observer feels towards Clooney's character, and credit must go first to his nuanced performance, probably the best of his career. Bingham is essentially a good man, trapped in a morally questionable and arguably broken profession; it is a joy to watch Clooney balance all these factors and come to terms with the situation.

Credit must also go to Reitman's screenplay, which is razor sharp in wit, and more importantly, very poignant and well thought out. His direction is also in keeping with the high standards he has set so far in his short career, and Reitman seems to grow in maturity and confidence with each film he does.

The supporting performances are also strong, particularly Anna Kendrick's Natalie Keener, a naive young newcomer to Bingham's profession who acts as the perfect foil for his human qualities.

In the end, I would say that the oscar tips are well earned with this, possibly the best film of the past year and certainly one of the strongest leading performances. I strongly expect this to get a few nominations when February rolls around, make sure to check it out and see what all the fuss is about.

Clooney's best yet
Smart and relevant screenplay
Top direction

Might be a bit slow for some
Possibly too close to home for some

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