Monday, December 14, 2009

Depressed Clooney flies high in 'Up in the Air'

"Up in the Air"
3 stars

By Thomas Tracy
One never truly reflects on their life until they meet a young person bursting with plans and ambition.

In the delightfully heartwarming “Up in the Air,” George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham finds that person in Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick, “Twilight”) and everything about the world he’s built is suddenly cast to the four winds.

While you would think that a guy who revels in a lifestyle full of connecting flights, but little personal connections would enjoy that, it quickly becomes an uncomfortable position for Ryan as he thoughtfully scans his reflection in the airplane’s Plexiglas window.
From the outset, everything is blue skies for Ryan, even if he has a despicable jobs – he goes from town to town firing people for a living.

But he hits some unexpected turbulence when he’s pulled from his perfectly “above it all” lifestyle and grounded as his boss begins tinkering with a video feed firing proposal Keener’s cooked up.

Desperate to get back in the air and to a blossoming layover relationship he’s begun with another frequent flier (Vera Farmiga, “The Departed”) Ryan takes on the challenge of teaching young Natalie about the business of ruining people’s lives, which, in Clooney’s hands, seems like a noble calling.

While nauseating at first, Natalie’s “I got my whole life planned out” demeanor becomes a wake-up call for Ryan as he wonders if his pursuit of acquiring 10 million frequent flier miles is as valuable as all he’s lost flying the so-called friendly skies.

Master of both the mischievous grin and the beaten hound dog stare, Clooney’s Oscar-caliber performance is the engine that makes “Up in the Air” soar.

Despite the heavy subject matter – the recession and mass firings across the country (there’s even a small segment seemingly dedicated to recently unemployed) – director Justin Reitman (“Juno”) infuses a sense of youthful optimism into the film that leaves audience members wanting to see what’s on the next horizon.

"Up in the Air." Starring George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga. Directed by Justin Reitman. Running time: 109 minutes. Rated R for language and some sexual content.

Playing in Brooklyn at
UA Sheepshead Bay 14.


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