Almost nothing happens in this movie, but for some reason I was completely enthralled for the entire thing. I guess that makes it pretty good.
Up in the Air isn't a movie with a gimmicky plot idea like most movies. Jason Reitman's newest is more of a story about a singular man and his job, much like his previous movie, the terrific Thank You For Smoking.
As far as I'm concerned, Reitman's last three movies have been incredibly solid. I loved Thank You For Smoking, I loved Juno, and Up in the Air easily holds up against the two.
Here we have a charming performance by George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a man who makes his living firing people. Yeah, there's irony there. Companies who get stressed during downsizing time hire him to come in and help these people through what is most likely one of the worst times of their lives. As I said, not a lot happens in this movie so I'll won't say too much about the rest of the story.
What this movie is about at it's core, I think, is just how this guy deals with his life. It's very interesting to watch, oftentimes funny, and extremely smart. Ryan Bingham is a man who needs to live his life alone, and in the air. He's disconnected and far away from his family, so much so that he is told to arrive at the same time as the guests to his sister's wedding. But what would happen if a man like this, a man who loves his solitude and his non-permanance, is grounded? That is what the movie explores.
There's two things specifically about this movie that I really loved. One is the style of direction and editing that Reitman and his editor Dana E. Glauberman (who has edited his other movies) put together for this movie. They created a fun couple of moments when Bingham is packing up his suitcase, and the way it's presented is very cool. Lots of fun sounds, quick shots and very orderly packing. I can't explain it, but it was just fun to watch.
The other thing about the movie I loved was Vera Farmiga, who you could say had the second biggest role. She played Clooney's love interest, and she was absolutely terrific. Extremely friendly and warm, she made me want to know her character in real life. Farmiga stole this movie one thousand percent. That's hard to do in a Clooney movie.
Yeah, it's not groundbreaking filmmaking, and it's not the most brilliant story ever written. But it holds your attention, and it's great filmmaking, and it's a great story. Sometimes that can be enough.