UP IN THE AIR: You know that an actor has turned in a superior performance when you can remember the name of their character long after you’ve seen the movie. I won’t soon forget corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) who embraces his solitary existence lived out in antiseptic-looking hotel rooms and impersonal airport terminals. Such accepted isolation makes him a “star” at firing workers until a tryst with an attractive fellow business traveler (Vera Farmiga) causes him to rethink his priorities. Director Jason Reitman (JUNO) and Sheldon Turner’s screenplay cleverly injects this storyline into the backdrop of the current national economic woes while putting very emotional and human faces on its suddenly unemployed victims. Clooney’s (See sidebar below.) bluntly charming yet smooth-talking corporate hit man fits him like a tailored three-piece suit and he gets especially strong support from Anna Kendrick (TWILIGHT) as a button-down whiz kid learning the ropes of the road. Attention should likewise be paid to Eric Steelburg’s cinematography which contrasts the sterile lighting of the main character’s empty-looking apartment and surroundings with the warm colors and hues in scenes involving his interaction with family members. In watching Reitman’s other films, I’ve noticed how well he uses his music to define characters in their settings and Rolfe Kent’s arrangements are excellent (Be sure and stay through the closing credits to hear the movie’s title song written on the day its author lost his job.). This film succeeds at adeptly blending comedy, drama and romance to produce a remarkable work with a few surprises up its sleeve. Its timeliness and thoughtful subject matter are certain to draw well-deserved attention from Oscar voters and moviegoers living with their own professional paranoia.
EXCELLENT MOVIES STARRING GEORGE CLOONEY: OUT OF SIGHT (1998), THREE KINGS (1999), SPY KIDS (2001), CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002)*, SYRIANA (2005)**, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (2005)*, MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007), BURN AFTER READING (2008), FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)
* Also directed movie
** Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor