Up In The Air : Melancholy Tale Of A Corporate Down-sizer

Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) a man who loves air travel and whose job it is to lay people off because their bosses are spineless weasels. He’s turns both travel and firing into an art, but discovers that a simple and satisfying life can be just as fragile as a personal life he’d rather leave on the ground.

Ryan Bingham has a peculiar goal in life: reach 10,000,000 frequent flyer miles. He is the perfect flyer. He travels light, knows which airport security line to use, and ranks car rental services like most people would rank cars they actually want to own.

He’s able to accumulate this kind of mileage and travel expertise by working for a company whose sole purpose is to send “termination specialists” to various businesses and fire people. This too is an art form for Ryan as he can spout the company’s meaningless platitudes to the recently downsized.

Ryan uses his lifestyle as a way to push his gig as a motivational speaker where he argues, like some twisted Buddhist monk, that both possessions and people do nothing but weigh us down and make our lives shorter. Unfortunately for Ryan, people begin to enter his life as he starts to fall for kindred spirit Alex (Vera Farmiga) and provide field experience to neophyte Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who wants to turn the firing business digital, which would ground Ryan indefinitely by removing the need to travel.

Natalie, meanwhile, has just been set adrift herself – dumped by her boyfriend, via text message. There’s a beautiful scene where, over a consoling drink with Ryan and Alex, the two women swap romantic ideals. Natalie’s shiny vision of the perfect man is countered by the 30-something Alex’s diminished expectations.

Up in the Air is a bittersweet rumination on life’s purpose in light of the current economic recession. Up in the Air lives up to its title – it feels uncertain, unfinished, still circling for a place to land. In that way, it’s like the lives of those fired people it depicts.

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