Posts Tagged ‘romcom’

Take a film that’s tagged as a recession romantic comedy, put in George Clooney in it, marry the two and what do you get? A light, breezy film, right? Wrong. Up in the Air is actually a meaningful film masquerading as a romcom.

Meet Ryan Bingham (Clooney), a man who is fires people on behalf of bosses who are too chicken to do it themselves. He travels 300 plus days a year, which means he has to spend ‘65 miserable days at home.’ He has no friends and a family he’s barely in touch with. He is comfortably ensconced in a ‘cocoon of personal detachment.’ And who can blame him? Many policemen, doctors and people in difficult jobs get somewhat desensitised over time in order to function.

What he has, however, is gold membership of all travel related clubs and a frequent flier mile count that’s outta this planet. If he can help it, he never spends on anything unless it somehow adds to his miles. After all, the ten million mile number, which happens to be his goal, doesn’t happen by itself.

He meets a kindred soul, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) in the first class (?) lounge at an airport. Sparks fly over a deliciously double entendre conversation involving phrase like ‘How Big’ and ‘impress me’, only they are referring to cards classification and club membership / benefits. Soon they’re jumping into bed, on their way to a casual fling. Of course, with their crazy travel schedules setting the next date is not an easy task. Still, one is managed some three months later when he’s in Fort Lauderdale and she’s in Miami. Out come the laptops and the relevant weekend is marked on the calendar.

Meanwhile, back at office in Omaha, Nebraska, enter the fresh-faced young recruit Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) and the man who fires people for a living is in danger of becoming redundant himself. Natalie comes up with the idea of firing people via video conferencing thereby saving the company beaucoup travel dollars.

However, what she possesses in bright ideas, she lacks in experience. Therefore Clooney is roped in to show her, well, the ropes. Clooney effortlessly slips into the role of a mentor and teaches her everything from the value of buying the right luggage to the morning after protocol post a one-night stand. In the process, some of her youthful hope and enthusiasm rubs off on his cynical side and he decides to take a chance on love.

The film, doubtless, will strike the right chord with the viewers especially in US and Europe. Which is precisely why the film was made, I suspect. To cash in all the recession blues hanging heavy all around. What I didn’t expect was that the makers would come up with an exceptional film in the process. I’ve seen Jason Reitman’s Juno, and while I thought it was a pleasant enough film, I didn’t think it was outstanding.

However, Up in the Air is not only a gem of a film, it delivers a sucker punch right in the solar plexus. It is insightful, edgy pastiche of the modern, jet-setting corporate culture with its mindless obsession with material possessions. It doesn’t have any forced or unrealistic situations and/or cartoon characters which we’ve come to expect from comedies. Razor sharp dialogue is the only concession the film makes to the genre. The film is both funny and poignant in parts. Given the theme, the film doesn’t weigh you down at any point. Well, except during Natalie Keener’s first firing episode. I have to admit, I felt so bad for Mr. Samuels I bawled like a baby.

On the whole, however, it is, as it promises, a mature comedy. As you can tell, I really, really, really liked the film.

Note: not to be seen when you’ve just been laid off yourself, lost a loved one or generally when PMSing.

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