film review: Up In The Air (2009)


Up in the Air poster George ClooneyOk, I know this has only just released in Ireland so technically it’s 2010 here but it released in the US on 23rd Dec 2009, just in time for the Oscars.

Up In The Air is based on a novel of the same name by Walter Kirn. I don’t know that novel but I am familiar with the director – Jason Reitman. He directed Juno but more importantly he directed the excellent Thank You for Smoking. A film I would heartily recommend to everyone. Up In The Air I also recommend… and on balance I would recommend it to everyone… but with certain reservations.

I guess I’ll have to explain a bit about this film, I won’t be giving anything away that you haven’t seen in the trailers though so don’t worry.

Basically George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man who’s dedicated to his job. His job happens to be a professional firer. He’s contracted out to other companies to tell their staff that they’re fired. He lives his life in airports, on planes and in boardrooms all over the USA, rarely physically “touching base” as they say. When a new recruit, played by Anna Kendrick, comes on board, Ryan finds himself saddled with… baggage.

To be honest, I didn’t find it completely engaging, but then again I did like it. It’s a bit of a puzzler because so many people I know really thought it was brilliant. I found it difficult to relate to. Course I am lucky; I still have my job… I know more than a few people who have lost theirs in the last 12 months, but this film isn’t really about that anyway. It’s about… what people value in life… to sum it up in one. I still don’t really know why I found this film so difficult to relate to though. Perhaps it depicts a lifestyle and an attitude that is so far from my own that I just don’t understand it.

So, when I say I’m recommending it with reservations it’s because, while I wasn’t mad about it, I can’t deny that there is something to it. I’ve thought long and hard about what I didn’t like about it and I can’t point to it so I have no reason to not recommend it. Especially when there’s a chance that others will take a great deal from it. The only thing I will say against it is that I thought it was a little slick…

For what it’s worth, it is a smart, solid story and, as I mentioned earlier in the week, there are some great poignant scenes. There’s a bit of drama, there’s a bit of romance, but it just never quite came together for me. It is however a very good character study and George Clooney does a good job. Anna Kendrick is grand as well. I’d never heard of her before but I gather she’s in Twilight, so good for her, this should keep her out of the typecasting for a while.

Hmm… It probably is time I started talking about the Oscar buzz. Everyone else is after all.

This is probably one of the most hotly tipped contenders for the Oscars. It’s been nominated for 6 Golden Globes and it’s George Clooney who’s attracting most of the heat. So far in the awards season he’s well ahead in the Best Actor stakes. Ok, last night he just missed out on the Critics Choice Award however with the Golden Globes tomorrow it’s hardly the one he’s focussed on.

Having seen the film, I don’t know if he’ll get the Oscar. We all know that it’s not necessarily all down to the performance but I just don’t know that he’s done enough here to win. The other thing is is that I do believe that the Oscars like to be different… so all his wins may put him out a little bit here. Then again, I hear this year they’re trying to be a bit more populist, extendeding the best picture category to 10 to take in a bigger range of films and all. It’s really a hard one to call.

Then again, who are the other contenders? As I also mentioned earlier in the week, I hear that Colin Firth gives the performance of a lifetime in A Single Man. I’ve seen The Road now and while I’d say Viggo Mortensen has a good chance at a Oscar nomination but I don’t think the buzz is there and I’m not sure the range in his performance is big enough win it for him. I’m still holding out for Jeremy Renner and his performance in The Hurt Locker but the thing is I’m really not feeling the buzz around anyone else this year. Maybe Clooney has it in the bag.

Best picture wise… again I’d like to say The Hurt Locker over Up In The Air? Well actually I’d like to say Inglourious Basterds but that’s just not going to happen. What do you think yourselves?

Anyway I forgot to do the rating before I started talking about awards… so here you go.



  1. comment-avatar
    HenryJanuary 17, 2010 - 2:09 pm

    Not being able to relate leaves me to wonder about you…! Well, I don’t know you too well.

    Too bad you didn’t have the connection with the film, which I thought was one of many themes in the film.

    No mention of Vera Farmiga and her character? I think she’s equally, if not more, key as Anna Kendrick’s character.

    Waiting to see what the awards will say about this film. Somewhat unrelated, there’s some chatter about Morgan Freeman in Invictus (to be reviewed?) which I thought was decent, but not that special.

  2. comment-avatar
    Nicola-tJanuary 17, 2010 - 2:26 pm

    Hey Henry,

    Invictus isn’t out for a while here so won’t be commenting on it any time soon unfortunately.

    Yeah, the film was all about connections. I know I said it was about what people value in their lives, connecting is really an offshoot of that I suppose. I could equally have said it was about relationships but I think it’s fair to say “what people value” encompasses most of this, whether they value their jobs, their relationships, their lifestyle, the views of themselves (ego) and where they are going… it pretty much covers it.

    It just didn’t really draw me in. None of the characters were in a similar situation to myself so there was little relevency for me there and it was such a character driven film that that left little for me to grasp on to. Thematically it was wide (as I mentioned in earlier) but I thought it really only made some vague and then some very specific comments which again, did not resonate enough for me.

    I hope this answers some of your wonderings about me 😉

    I don’t have much to say about Vera but I did think she was good. You’d be hearing about it if I thought she was crap. I just didn’t think they spent a lot of time on her character. Not that they should have, after all, the film was mainly about Ryan.

  3. comment-avatar

    […] Up In The Air (Movie Review) I reviewed the book a while ago, but I haven’t had a chance to see the movie. I’ve linked to another review though and I’m hoping to see the movie this weekend. Comments [0]Digg it!Facebook […]

  4. comment-avatar
    7tavern AdminFebruary 21, 2010 - 5:39 am


    We’ve browsed through your reviews and thought that they are really original and interesting! We would like to invite you to publish your reviews on, which provides an alternative platform for promising movie reviewers to showcase their talents. In addition, you’ll find a growing community of bloggers who share the same passion for excellent movies! Based on the merit of your reviews, we intend to offer you exclusive publishing privileges on our website!

    Please feel free to contact us to discuss our proposal. =)

    7tavern Team

Leave your comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Top