Saturday, February 6, 2010

Up in the Air

*Jason Reitman*109m*2009*

Ryan (Clooney),  a graying bachelor, is a corporate executive, living out of a suitcase, his home the airliner at an altitude of ten kilometers. His ambition is to log ten million kilometers of flying which will entitle him to a badge of recognition from the airline and an interview with the chief pilot. His social circle consists of the airline and hotel employees he encounters as he moves from one hotel and air terminal to another. His job profile is that of a Termination Facilitator, or hatchet man, in a company whose line of business is "down-sizing" of companies. His job is to fire people.

The film gives a picture of the current spate of unemployment  in the US. As the script says, loss of a job is a trauma similar to a death in the family. People react in different ways to the shock of leaving a job, and are known to be suicide risks. Loss of one's livelihood is loss of one's dignity as a contributor in society. And you wake up the next day with no-where to go, facing a horrifying succession of Sundays. One's work is what gives structure and sequence to time and loss of occupation throws the pattern of life into disarray. Anger, disbelief, grief--the film captures it all well.

It's a film as perfect as the same director's Juno, and like that film, provides an authentic window to  present day US. In spite of a grim theme, there is a lightness, optimism and even joy running through the movie. As Clooney says in the movie, " Living is moving." On a canvas of blue sky or seas of cloud, with two romantic side-plots to add substance to the story, it is as enjoyable and educative as you would like.


Ronak M Soni said...

Glad to know you liked it.

There's an Indian who reminds me somewhat of Reitman called Dibakar Bannerjee. His movies too tackle serious themes with a lightness of heart.

S. M. Rana said...

I was on the verge of seeing Lucky Oye and maybe I should now that I'm being drawn into Indian cinema.

Seongoyong Ch said...

I watched the movie last month. I was immediately absorbed in it. The situation is so serious that the movie can be categorized into drama, but this bittersweet movie is also very funny. The scene between Ryan and Alex comparing their cards and memberships is as hilarious as calling card comparison between loathsome yuppies in "American Psycho". And the last sequence reminds me of "Michael Clayton", which uses Clooney's face effectively. "Up in the Air" is somehow uplifting without being sentimental or sugary, and this is quite rare feat.

SM Rana said...

Seongyong Cho

You have spelt your name differently this time?

I had got hold of Oldboy and Memories of Murder, and I shall see Oldboy soon.

Michael Clayton was another film I liked a lot because of it's depiction of the corporate world.

I agree that Up in the Air is a bittersweet film and I like the optimistic ending where all the "firees" express how they came to terms with their situation.

Uplifting is the exact word because after all life is all about courage in the face of challenges.

Seongyong Cho said...

Oops, that was typo.

I especially like that ending, but I don't dare to tell it to people because I will rob them of their own entertainment and elevation then. Maybe we don't like burden in our life or "backpack", but it will be our life support when the time comes.

SM Rana said...

I just read about your travels in New York. Realistic!!

It's not easy to reduce the size of the backpack because even if you were to discard all your belongings and friends, you have to deal with the pandora's box of your own mind, the desires, the sufferings, the feelings of hatred, jealosy, anger--which in Eastern terms is the back-back of karma we bring with us from previous lifetimes.

Here is something I wrote earlies about "back pack" size.

vivek said...

I liked it as well. But like many films these days I knew very early where all his air miles would eventually go.
I'm also a big fan of a well-packed backpack.

Nick Duval said...

I didn't hate this movie, but I didn't really like it that much. Clooney was outacted by both the women, and I thought this was incredibly overrated. There's a lot of fandom for "Hollywood screwball comedies," something I don't exactly find myself watching again and again.