Last weekend, I revisited the film Up in the Air, a film I have seen a few times now.
I have no idea where I was when this film was released but for some reason it completed escaped my attention at the time. Over the last few years, though, I have watched it a few times and I never fail to enjoy it.
The film stars George Clooney and Anna Kendrick. Clooney is a man who spends his life on the move, working for a company that fires people en masse for other companies who are restructuring. Kendrick is the young woman who arrives at the company with a plan to revolutionize how they do things.
The plot is so simple that you can write it on the back of an envelope, but it is the characters and the journey each of them goes on which make the film great. It is a masterclass in counterpoint, with Clooney the character who loves the impersonality of airports and hotels, and who gives motivational speeches about freeing yourself of emotional commitments butting up against Kendrick, a buttoned up young woman who has followed a boy to end up working for the same company. The two clash over the new system she introduces to fire people online – the ultimate in impersonal tactics and one which Clooney is violently opposed to.
Throw into the mix a bit of a love interest and a classic small town wedding and the story lifts up and flies along as easily as one of the planes Clooney is racking up his air miles in.
It is neither a comedy or a drama, but is both funny and touching and when I watched it again last weekend I found myself wondering why so many remakes are being made, when there are great films like this possible.
Having said that, I have not read the book upon which it was based, and having read a brief synopsis it seems the film does significantly alter things about its original source so a lover of the book may have different ideas.