Monday, May 17, 2010
Up in the air
There are some movies which effortlessly pull you in to their narration, cast a spell, and stay in your thoughts for days to follow. Up in the air is one such little gem. George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a consultant, who is hired by companies to fire people (or scores of people), or execute their downsizing plan. Why would companies hire specialists to do it - well, lot of reasons - it is dirty work, potential for law suits, and most importantly, if you are a manager worth your salt, you would never do a job yourself when you can hire consultants to do it and spend a fortune (read someone's annual CTC)on it.
As you can imagine, in the current economic situation, he is in great demand. Clooney jets around from city to city (enjoy the arresting aerial views of dozens of tier-2 US cities), moving in and out of offices, leaving scores of people jobless and in shambles.
Corporate travel in the US could be suffocating and soul-sucking to some. With the standard issue corporate buildings, meeting rooms, beige barricades called cubicles, ubiquitous dark suits (with the colorful ties trying in vain to break the monotony), airport hotels which are located as far away from civilization (or normal life) as possible, window less hotel conference rooms, mediocre food, and lots of dread. But Clooney's character thrives in it. He doesn't embrace it - he ravishes it, raking up frequent flyer miles meanwhile. He is a man who has calibrated himself to the system around him so efficiently, that he almost forgets that it is the system around him and not real life.
Of course, there are intruders from the real world who intrude his perfect system, engage him, play him and puncture his perfect cocoon. His sisters, a younger colleague whom he is showing the ropes of his trade, a fellow business traveler and others.
The film is carried by very good performances - Clooney tones down his charm quotient to fit the character and gives a measured, beautiful performance. Matched by Anna Kendrik as his co-worker and Vera Farmiga as his co-traveler. And an array of consistently good performances by people (some of them were cast as they had to go through this in real life) who get fired in the movie.
There are some very funny moments, some poignant ones. There is heartbreak, razor-sharp dialogue and tit-for-tat. And some hope and possible redemption. Rent it, watch it, mull it over, and smile.