Sunday, December 27, 2009

Up in the Air (*****)

Up in the Air. 109 mins. R. Directed by Jason Reitman. Written by Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner. Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, and Jason Bateman.

Up in the Air is as good a comedic drama as you're likely to see this or any other year. It comes darn near close to perfection, and I'll be very surprised if it doesn't win Best Picture in February. This marks director and co-writer Jason Reitman's third movie, after the well-received Juno and Thank You for Smoking, and it's amazing how mature and confident he has become behind the camera in that short time. George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a frequent flier who travels around the country firing people for a living. He lives out of a suitcase, has no real connections and no home life, and absolutely loves it. Ryan's isolation is tested though when he's partnered up with a young, type-A associate (Anna Kendrick, great in Rocket Science, and even better here), and enters into a romantic relationship with the female equivalent of himself (the wonderful Vera Farmiga). This is a role tailor-made for Clooney and he delivers the goods, and then some. Clooney has never been better or more magnetic on screen, and watching him, I was reminded of Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. Put the right actor in the right role and give them material to run with, and the result is magical. Up in the Air works as a drama, but it's also frequently funny. The comedy comes not from absurd humor, jokes, or physical gags, like most other comedies these days, but from smartly-crafted dialogue, flawlessly delivered by great actors. Small-scale films made for adults have had a rough year (see State of Play or Duplicity - nobody else did), and with the all-consuming rise of the franchise blockbuster, they're in danger of becoming instinct. Don't let them. Up in the Air flies high above the competition, and proves that, when done well, these kinds of movies prove deeply satisfying in ways no soulless blockbuster can even touch.
- John


At 11:00 AM, Blogger The Family T said...

Agreed! This was my favorite movie I saw in 2009. Granted, I did not see all that many movies, but still...loved it.


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