Up in the Air
Ryan Bingham travels around the country, hired by cowardly managers to handle the firing of employees. A seasoned traveler, Ryan spent 322 days traveling last year, which means that he had to spend 43 "miserable" days at home in Omaha. Ryan derives pleasure from his elite status when he travels, so when he's called back to Omaha and learns that young upstart Natalie Keener has introduced the idea of virtual firing, his way of life is challenged. Ryan asserts that Natalie doesn't truly understand the nature of his business, and that you can't perform this job virtually. Ryan's boss lets Ryan have a few more weeks of travel to show Natalie the ropes of how he does his job. In the meantime, Ryan is involved in a relationship with Alex, who is also "turned on" by elite status and connects with Ryan when their layovers overlap.
One of the most poignant moments of this movie for me was a conversation between Ryan and Natalie, wherein he tells her that he doesn't spend any money unless it contributes to his frequent flyer miles, with the goal of reaching 10 million miles, which only six people have every accomplished before. Natalie wonders if he's planning a trip to Hawaii or somewhere to use all those miles, but Ryan says that the miles themselves are the goal, to which Natalie replies that if she had that many miles, she'd go to the airport and just pick a place and go.
That's just one example, that I probably butchered in trying to retell, but it's only one of many brilliant moments in this movie. The acting was fantastic all around - Anna Kendrick as Natalie and Vera Farmiga as Alex -- and, it goes without saying, George Clooney as Ryan Bingham ;) But more than that, the movie as a whole was well done and powerful, and my attention was captured from the beginning credits all the way through to the end. I really related to the character of Natalie, as I'm of a similar age and place in life right now, but I also enjoyed the scenes between Ryan and Alex - in fact, I think Alex might have been my favorite character, because Vera Farmiga's acting was excellent.
Coming in, I expected this movie to be good, but it definitely exceeded my expectations. If you haven't seen it yet, go rent this movie - I'd recommend it to anyone, period.