Upon release in 2009, Up in the Air was subject to huge critical acclaim. It was named in many critics’ top 10 list of films for that year and nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (x2) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Unfortunately, it failed to win in any of those categories.

*** WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

The film centres around Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer who flies around the United States firing people for a living. We travel with Ryan and learn of his isolated life and his philosophies until his company threatens to ruin the happy life he leads by putting him on the ground.

Firstly, George Clooney is incredible. He has won one Best Actor Oscar (Syriana) and been nominated for three more (including Up in the Air) but I think that Up in the Air is the best I have ever seen him; he brings the character to life and allows the audience to feel how he feels. The supporting cast is just as good; Vera Farmiga (pictured) is great as is Ryan Bingham’s protege, if you like, Anna Kendrick. Then there are smaller, but still brilliant, appearances from Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, J.K. Simmons and Danny McBride to complete a superb acting cast.

Up in the Air is directed by Jason Reitman who is no stranger to critical acclaim with Thank You for Smoking and Juno both under his belt. I wasn’t a big fan of Juno but Reitman has won me round with this masterpiece.

The story is fantastic; it has a strong structure and a complete story arc. The characters really do develop and it is clear to see the three main characters changing over the course of the film. The character development of Ryan Bingham in particular is really good and he is up there with some of my favourite characters from movies ever. The writing of the character, the acting, the story just makes him seem ‘real’ and he’s a man you can sympathise with and empathise with. Although not really likeable at first, after being on the journey with him you come to know him and see sides of him that nobody else sees which is really well done by the film makers.

Although the film prioritises the drama aspect of the film and it is about Ryan’s job the comedy really shines in Up in the Air. Their are lots of funny moments, not necessarily jokes but things which can make the audience chuckle and laugh out loud. It really manages to mix the drama and comedy perfectly.

The ending was perfect and ambiguous which is really enjoyable. It can be read as a happy ending or a sad ending depending on your interpretation of the film and your feelings towards the characters but by this time Ryan’s development has become clear and you see what a nice guy he is. I’ve watched a few films recently where the ending has seemed like a bit of a cop out, but this was not one of them. Fantastic.

I fail to think of any negative point I saw in Up in the Air. Perhaps the only thing was that it didn’t last longer. I was more than satisfied with the running length, it didn’t drag, it didn’t rush but I could happily watch George Clooney as Ryan Bingham for hours. I’ll definitely be re-watching this a lot in future.

My Rating: 9/10

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