The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has a job that most of us would love to hate. And we would pray to god to never give a chance to work with him. But Ryan loves his job. And he loves his life up in the air. He travels 270-300 days a year. He delivers one of the most difficult messages to hapless souls across the United States. And he has the pugnacity to go back to the hotel room and sleep. In fact one of the employee he lays off asks him, “How do you sleep during the night, man?” Valid question.
I am not sure how Up in the Air reads as a book but Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner deserve the Oscar nomination for one of the most coherent screenplays in recent times. We travel with Ryan and Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a rookie, who Ryan has to train in his ways. There is that seemingly innocuous subplot of Ryan’s sister and her fiancé’s insane idea of having their cardboard cutout picture taken in front of prominent locations around the States. And Ryan’s own obligation towards his family and how he reconnects. Ryan meets a kindred spirit in Alex (Vera Farmiga) who’s as mysterious as she’s beautiful. And when she serves as his ultimate epiphany, Ryan reaches his goal, in more ways than one. The whole thing falls beautifully into place and Jason Reitman has to be lauded for that.
The question that the film doesn’t handle altogether convincingly is what maketh Ryan. Is he the way he is because of his job or is he so good at his job only because he is completely withdrawn as a person? Maybe it doesn’t have to answer this question but it would have been really interesting if it had.