Most recent talks Film talks A-Z Before viewing talks Deep talks Sign up: email updates About the film talks Stay up on new talks Join the community
What's this site about? Inside out: Heart Inside out: Beauty Inside out: Love Thoughtful: a film's heart Thoughtful: film content Thoughtful: films to watch Who's behind this?
Register and login General PttH updates Film review sites Film site quick views Quotes The PttH seminar

Up in the Air (2009)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

What if your job had you on the road 322 days a year…traveling alone? What if you spent most of those days firing people? Starting with this bleak relational backdrop, Up in the Air explores hope, stability, integrity, connection, and commitment. Will we find stability where we look for it? What type of connection makes a relationship? Can we live truly as relational transients, always up in the air? How, specifically, does relational commitment fit with our hope for life and love? Though the film’s main plot line is woven around corporations’ lack of commitment in their relationships with employees, Up in the Air’s deepest consideration of these questions is in the other plot lines woven around the main one. With humor, hurt, and surprise, the film juxtaposes differing attitudes toward, styles of, reasons for, and commitments to relationship. Actively overlaying multiple perspectives, metaphors, and stereotypes, the film evokes comparisons and contrasts that go notably deeper than they first appear.

It is mostly in reverse that Up in the Air asks questions about goodness: It presents situations and actions that don’t feel quite right. Sometimes we feel this immediately — as in the various reactions (and fantasies) of people who have just been laid off — while at other times it takes a while to sink in. That said, there are a number of quite funny and insightful lines back-and-forth, some that frequent travelers will likely appreciate a bit more than others. With very good acting and filmcraft, Up in the Air takes us on a worthwhile journey into transition, commitment, and relationship. However, be aware that the film deals with casual sex without speaking explicitly and loudly against it, intentionally (I believe) drawing the dots and leaving them for the viewer to connect as they reflect on the film.

Ryan Bingham provides a service for his company’s clients. He fires their employees. Because they don’t have the guts to do it themselves. Even in such unsettling work, he’s found reason and stability, as he has in the huge time on the road that it requires. Enter Natalie Keener, who is changing the way the company does its work. Ryan should be glad — he won’t have to travel — but the change threatens the stability he has found. His sister’s coming wedding, a new road-warrior friend, and his interactions with Natalie all collide with his stability, causing him to see things he hadn’t seen before. Running time: 109 min.

In its investigation of relationships, Up in the Air directly touches on casual sexual relationships. Mostly, this is via dialog, but once there is a brief bit of on screen nudity. Periodic strong language, pervasive mild language.

  • Director: Jason Reitman
  • Screenplay: Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, based on novel by Walter Kirn
  • Leads: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman
  • Cinematography: Eric Steelberg
  • Music: Rolfe Kent

Tags: , ,

NOTE: Although Before viewing talks don't have spoilers, comments below MAY have spoilers
(spoilers are allowed in comments when a Before viewing talk does not have a corresponding After viewing talk for discussing the film)

Post a Comment

NOTE: It is okay to have spoilers in comments on Quick talks, but please do warn folks with "** SPOILERS **" or some such.

You must be registered (it's easy) and logged in to post a comment. Why?