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Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Flicks: Up In The Air


A review of a book to film adaptation. 

In the 2009 film, Up In The Air, George Clooney portrays Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizer who travels across the U.S. to fire people. Basically, his corporation sends him in to dismiss employees from their job, so that the employer doesn't have to. As part of his career, Ryan is constantly on the road, or more accurately, in the air for a large portion of his year. He is not close to his family, has a modest apartment that he rarely sleeps at, and has made it his personal goal to ten million frequent flyer miles. 

His simple life is threatened when his employer hires an enthusiastic, young recruit, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) to help cut costs. As part of her plan, Natalie wants to fire people through video conference calls, making people like Ryan obsolete. Fearful that this new thinking will bring an end to his way of life, Ryan argues that Natalie is too inexperienced to fire people, and could never understand what he does on a daily basis. To his annoyance, Ryan's boss agrees that Natalie is inexperienced and tasks Ryan with mentoring her as she accompanies him on his travels. 

As they begin their travels, we gain a deeper insight into each of the character's personal lives. Through their mismatched personalities and experiences, the two begin to form an understanding of each other. Along the way, Ryan encounters the female equivalent of himself, played by Vera Farmiga, who he quickly falls for. The film then follows Ryan as he tries to find a life for himself outside of an airport, and discover who he truly is. 

Based on the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn, Up In The Air is one of those rare movies that actually improves upon the source material. Directed by Jason Reitman (Juno), the film consistently entertains while providing thought provoking commentary on economics and the state of American's social lives. While the novel was mainly made of anecdotes about Ryan's experiences, there is a much stronger narrative arch to the film that all leads to a believable conclusion. Equally funny and intelligent, Up In The Air is a timely film that I would definitely recommend. 

Have you seen this film or read the book on which it is based? If so, how do you think the two compare? Which other film adaptations would you like to see reviewed?

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