Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) of “Up in the Air” is a distant resemblance and subtle antonym to Macon Leary of “The Accidental Tourist” Macon travels to places to write for suggesting how to not leave the place they came from in this new land and do the things and get the food. He packs with care and always ready for tragedy. His life is a silent dissipation of giving up on life without ever realizing it. Ryan Bingham likes his way of life. Nothing called home and everything left on the airports and hotels and rental cars, his philosophy is a careful methodical seclusion from the life of settling. Oh and yeah, he fires people for living.
Jason Reitman’s film as “Thank you for Smoking” takes a guy we definitely do not want to see in our professional life and makes us like him. While attaining experience gives a place to coat themselves in doing the toughest and worst job, Bingham seem to be born for it. Not that he enjoys firing but the challenge to give some kind of faint hope for the people he let go makes him fly those miles. There is only one ambition, a goal to aspire for since his desire for family life is zilch. That is something you got to find out for yourself. It explains a person driving themselves to some place, title or achievement and not knowing the post achievement of it. What is after that is the question many do not ponder or the moment itself becomes a confusion which they thought would be more of a confirmation of the life they led till that point.
There is no procedure he follows since it is unpredictable and things can turn real ugly than one can imagine. He studies the person as if he is going to hire them. He is never going to see any of them. He hands them a package which is a cup of water for a burning building. The man conveniently lives his life through this job. No ties, no bonds and nothing but smiling flight attendants and gleeful receptionists.
Reitman’s previous two films are known for its corkiness and witty dialogues. But more than that are the people he introduces us to. Each of them have a conscience and conflict level as that of people we encounter in daily life. The problems are same but the situations are unique in his films. And in each of those, there are characters we absolutely are made to like and love regardless of how flawed and wrongful they become. And in “Up in the Air”, Ryan Bingham condescends in every step of his actions and yet we sympathize him on his disappointments with full heart.
Airports carry a sense of lifestyle. I can associate the feeling towards it because I have done enough flight journeys to and fro India. While the chaos of the work till the last moment chokes you and in the drive to the airport the traffic makes sure to have a presence and remembrance of its capability, when I enter the gates of airport, it becomes real. The vacation becomes real. After going through the procedures and formalities of today’s security measures, all I am left is with thoughts and wonder on the thoughts of the other people. But those thoughts, how much ever worse and depressing it might be are glowing in this temporary plastic comfort zone. There is a likable devil in this transit. The same goes when we check in a hotel, a proper franchised no resort type of hotels. Bingham’s life is exactly like that. And he meets a woman who seem to be the last chance for him to get to the cycle of social normal life.
Vera Farmiga plays Alex, a female version of Bingham. In her performance in “Nothing but the Truth” she comes as a CIA agent exposed and she has that authority along with a softness. Here she makes her character with an immense confidence level that it cannot be more logical and perfect for these two people to form a life. In the midst of this is the new entry to the profession and a diligent aspiring young woman Natalie (Anna Kendrick). She is the new age and is a threat to Bingham’s life of aloofness. She impresses the boss man Craig (Jason Bateman) to employ a new method to fire people, right from their desks. Video chat it is and Ryan challenges resulting in Craig roping her with him to feel the real firing in person to employ in video firing.
And the three of them meet which becomes more clear on what Bingham should do and where his life is leading him. This is sweet tale telling and without any notice, we are brought to an unusual tough corner in the end. Out there Ryan in his assumed happy life realizes how lonely he really is. We are made to feel it. The feeling of coming out of that shell is the wake up call for him as it is for many. The lovely tale of firing people turns on an emotional level for Ryan and in any other film, we would have seen a glory romantic moment in the airport gate but here, well the people behave as they will. As much as George Clooney is charming, here his charisma occurs only when he is at work and till he meets Alex. After that the curse is lift and he begins to see the plain life he has persuaded himself to live with. Not aloud but he processes it internally and culminates in those Hollywood moment in front of a huge crowd. Do not fear though as you are not in one of those films. The movie works because of those final fifteen minutes and very much lives among us. Jason Reitman gives one of the best films of the year.