DIRECTED BY JASON REITMAN
STARRING: GEORGE CLOONEY, VERA FARMIGA, ANNA KENDRICK, MELANIE LYNSKEY, JASON BATEMAN
It’s a good thing that the writers (and director) started with trying to give us a hang of the whole thing, because, for all I know, there are the excessively air-sick people who might not take to the frequent flying over here, or might take to it in a wholly adverse manner. And what with the finesse in everything, from wearing of suit-tie to the clapping-shut of cases, and not to mention the swirl of trolley-bag, backed by a voice-over by the protagonist, ‘Up in the Air’ begins (and one can very well say that) to be a rocket-ride of sorts. But you know it has to tire down and maybe even cease to be, some time, because that’s what they’re advocating, and by ‘they’, I mean the people who are in it: The names of Ryan Bingham and Natalie Keener.
It’s a very nice set-up: very tight, prospective. A man who does things solely for the love of doing it, and who doesn’t do the rest because he sees no point in them, finds a woman who could be an exact match, a mirror-image potential, in exactly the terms she herself mentions to him in a profanely humourous way got me asking one thing, straight out: Could what’s growing between them be called ‘love’, or could it even be related to it in the most obscure way possible? That’s precisely what’s expected of me, I guess, and by asking it, I had fulfilled the entire point of that aspect of the film. The other aspect, the ‘exterminator’ outfit, with the accompanying guilt, sounding more in the kid than the mentor, who has enough behind him to look grave and battle-worn and say “that’s what they do all the time”, is unquestionable, citing its genuineness. It is never said that they like what they’re doing: Ryan flies and that’s pretty much all he sees in the whole thing, because he’s the no-attachment-no-belonging person who finds some nice shoes that fit him. Natalie does what she does for the sake of a guy who is only to leave her. It’s a sordid turn to a solely-professional, career-related progression of plot. And it is intended.
I could have done with a little more perspective. Everything’s fine, I mean, the whole ‘nostalgic trip’ is no guessing game, you know for sure it’s about to come, all the flying has got to crash there some time, because that’s where one finds the ground. And here, risking sounding like a fan of ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie’, (which I definitely am not) I wished we could have crashed a little harder, or a little longer, whichever could have left a better mark. Probably this portion of the film is fine and it’s Ryan that’s to blame, saying so little about what he has in mind, merely being suggestive, through alterations in his pet ‘backpack theory’ in course of time, and we get to see a transition coming up all along that we fail to see how Ryan is evolving to bring that about, only because it’s not shown. Having established him as a person who has a clear idea about why he’s doing what he’s doing, and having helped us get in pace with the whole of his character, it feels more than hurtful when wounded at last shot: It feels juvenile. It is tough to digest that a man like Ryan couldn’t have seen that coming, because I didn’t, and I had a feeling that I was living like him all through. Infidelity (in so called ‘practicality’) is said to have been subtly written in, but it only served to be a road-block, at least to me. I could have done with a more ‘to the ground’ twist to the tale, an ‘in the face’ sort than to have presented the vixen as vile: I can never digest that, it’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ all over again, for me.
‘You are where you belong, and you’d better belong there’. It’s loud and clear that it’s Ryan’s cue to get back to where he belongs to, where he’s from (“I’m from here”. I loved that line), a ‘back to ground’ sort for the one who flies, it’s just that I only felt that a man like him wouldn’t suffer in the first place, to know. The film is filled with its moments, and Anna Kendrick hardly has her tongue off her cheek, (the girl who so effortlessly made us hate her in the 2007 independent, ‘Rocket Science’) and proves to be a charmer all the way, making wonder why she didn’t get her statuette. The ‘earthlings’ have a lot to say in the less they say, although the ‘misfits’ could have made themselves clear (or maybe they have, I don’t know). ‘Up in the Air’, otherwise, is a level cruise, with a little bump and a hurtful bruise.