” Tonight most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day. Tonight they’ll sleep. The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places, and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.”
Movies that deal with companionship or relationships tend to be one-sided. The male or female lead tend to feel incomplete with their lives, although successful or fast-moving as their life may be, as they don’t have someone to share in their experiences. It is always rather predictable with movies that deal with relationships in a drama, we know that eventually there will be a reconciliation with the person that they are meant to be with after some pondering over slow music and panoramic shots of beautiful vistas. All ends up well as was intended or so we love to have happen. Up in the Air is one of those movies that looks at delivering a different side to the act of companionship.
Jason Reitman creates a movie where our lead lives by a philosophy. A philosophy that is living your life without ties, without people, and without someone. Up in the Air centers around Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), who is a corporate downsizer and his travels around the country, essentially leaving a wake of unemployed people in his path. The fact that he is a corporate downsizer is not the focus piece of the movie, but rather his travels. Ryan has no ties, either personal or tangible, he lives out of his suitcase running from terminal to terminal and interacting briefly with those that he meets on his travels. It’s a life filled with small moments that are just stops on his journey to his ultimate goal, 10 million flier miles. Ryan also give motivational speeches along the way, in particular the speech you heard in the trailer sums up his life philosophy on relationships and people. Relationships are the biggest thing weighing someone down from their goals, in his case, the 10 million flier miles. It isn’t until he takes on a partner in his travels through the corporate America downsizing. Here is where Ryan’s philosophy is challenged as the young upstart Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) grills Ryan on why he chooses to live a life of isolation and why he doesn’t want to be with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who is another like-minded traveler. Alex is compatible with Ryan in every way and two seem genuinely happy when meet at different times throughout the movie.
I won’t spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it. Up in the Air is a deep movie where we are presented with the opposite of a love story, one where the lead isn’t looking for love because they don’t want it. I really liked this movie because of the subject matter it presents. Time and time again we are given a movie that indicates that a complete life is one where we have someone special. One whom we can share our thoughts, travels, and experiences. There are several examples in the movie where this idea is challenge, particularly when Ryan’s sister gets married and the husband has cold feet. We see Ryan debate internally about his decision to lead a life where his only connections happen from airport hub to airport hub.
I think the most important thing that the movie does for the viewer is make you think about your current situation. Whether you are swan or a shark. Living your life with someone or going at it alone. This is where is motivational speech comes center stage. Do you take stock in what you have, people or things and continue to live that life? Do you cut your ties and live your life without the anchors of possession or people? For some people, they jump from relationship to relationship, not wanting to be alone in life, wanting to share their experiences with another person. For others, they are content with living their life without the need for companionship. Sometimes your personal goals will never be achieved because you have to think about the other person in your life.
I absolutely loved this movie and what it discusses. What side of the relationship issue I fall on is not relevant. I liked the presentation and adaptation of the novel on which the movie is based on. It is a smart and thoughtful script with a lot of humor in it as well. George Clooney does an incredible job with his role as an isolated man. You can see the conflict in mind as he is confronted time and time again with dealing with his life philosophy and his ultimate goal.