Up in the Air is one of those rare movies, that when people ask how, “Dude, how do you make a movie?” you tell them to watch this movie. From start to finish, every aspect about this movie is perfect. There is not a single flaw in this movie.
The script of this movie is superb. Up in the Air was originally a book. Hence it has various aspects in its characters that can only be found in books. Such as the various philosophical and psychological themes of the movie, which are pretty easily read. Such as a person doing a particular thing, in this case the lead character, which is contrary to what he believes in at times. These may not come easy, but they are there. Also, the characters are wonderfully full of these little little contradictions and fine details not usually present in a screenplay. Also, the story of the book lends smoothness to the movie. The movie flies along in clear open skies, facing no turbulence.
Though that is not to say the script writers did little work. The dialogue of this movie is amazing. Usually in other movies, there isn’t a lot of dialogue. In Up in the Air, there aren’t any consecutive five minutes without dialogue. The characters are always speaking, enjoying what they are talking about and whom they are talking with. The movie covers so much ground with the dialogue, such as priorities changing as you grow, living alone, family and so on so forth. Since most of the movie revolves around Kendrick, Clooney and Farmiga’s characters, there is a clash in perspectives between Kendrick’s young girl and Clooney and Farmiga’s more experienced characters. The dialogue is witty, intelligent, funny, and most of all, memorable and quotable.
Up in the Air has a plethora of scenes. The movie is full of these scenes in different places with different situations. In a way, these scenes are small. They aren’t big scenes like a plane going crazy or a huge fight scene or huge confrontation. This movie stays very close to real life. There are little, momentously sweet scenes. Kind of like moments we all have in our lives. These moments are the ones that make us smile, on film as well as real life. They give us that huge smile that covers our entire face and we are left smiling there like an idiot. These scenes make you feel happy and optimistic and makes the characters feel organic, allowing them to have their moments and live like us and show us that they are like us. It Brings in that relatability factor for us so whatever these characters do and say, doesn’t seem superfluous or pretentious.
All this works because Up in the Air is a snappy movie. Snap, and the scene changes. The movie has this beautiful progression of scenes. It keeps the movie pacy and doesn’t dwell too long on one particular thing. It moves from one place to another with ease. Yet at the same time, the movie has a lot of patience with the characters. It allows for the characters to take their time and let the audience enjoy the characters. It just works. The balance between the pacy scenes as well as characters is perfect. This is important, because the scenes are driven by the characters and their dialogues. Too much edging to one side and the poise this movie has would’ve been ruined.
I especially loved Anna Kendrick’s Natalie Keener. Natalie was the star character. She was often pushed into these situations, either of her own accord or forced to and the way she reacted to them was beautifully captured. By the end of the movie, the Natalie Keener you see is very different from the Natalie Keener at the start of the movie. And that goes for all the characters (actually only Kendrick and Clooney’s). The movie matures these characters by putting them in situations they haven’t experienced before, either by choice or lack of opportunity.
And the actors pull it off with such great elegance and poise. The three leads, George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga are the stars of this movie, alongside the direction. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man who professionally fires people. Because of this, the movie at times feels very morose and outright depressing in its portrayal of the people being fired and the places where they are being fired. Clooney has this cool, almost total mechanical precision with which he plays his characters. He doesn’t miss a beat. He doesn’t mince his expressions. He lives each moment as if it were his. George Clooney is Ryan Bingham. No surprise he was nominated for an Oscar.
Anna Kendrick keeps up easily with all the emotional and psychological fluctuations her characters has. Kendrick’s 23 year old Natalie Keener was pretty much forced through hell, she faced people in limbo and came out alive. None of that would have ever made it out had Kendrick not had such a good read on her character.
Vera Farmiga my god! Her character, Alex Goran blew me away in every scene she was in. The energy, dynamism and also the wisdom she brings into every scene is amazing.
And it hasn’t only been these three. Even though most of the movie has revolved around these three, there have been short cameos done perfectly by various other actors, such as Jason Bateman as Ryan’s boss, J.K Simmons and Zach Galifianakis as employees who are being fired, Amy Morton and Melanie Lynskey as Binghman’s elder and younger sister respectively. In their short and brief cameos, these characters have amazing quotes and have been portrayed amazingly. Otherwise this movie would bust a bit.
Now, coming to the one aspect of a movie everyone wants to know. What is the movie about? The movie has a simple premise. It’s about a man doing his job and living his life. That’s it. That’s all. The whole movie revolves around Clooney’s Ryan Bingham and his job and his love for flying. The movie shows why he loves certain things and why he doesn’t love certain things. The movie talks about how his life changes and how, in a rudimentary yet at the same time, destroying sense as well, he sees the err in his own views after he meets these two amazing women, in the form of Natalie Keener and Alex.
When you pay close attention to this movie’s dialogues and characters, it feel s revelatory. It gives various simple little truths about life in those dialogues in such a way it is refreshing and impactful. Even though the movie has a really dark tone, with Bingham firing people, the end leaves you with a sense of optimism. And the movie also toys with the idea of firing all throughout the movie, making it a very important theme. And if you read past the surface of the movie, you’ll see so many things in the movie related to firing and it’s after effects. The whole movie does that. I don’t know why, but the movie leaves you thoroughly satisfied when you watch the end credits.
Published by Shrey Ahuja