‘Up in the Air’ Getting Festival Raves


The first film to come out of the festival circuit as a possible frontrunner is Jason Reitman’s third feature Up in the Air. The film had its first showing last night as a special addition to the Telluride Film Festival. So far the word is nothing but positive from journalists and bloggers across the web.

One of the film’s biggest champions is Kris Tapley of In Contention who wastes no time in calling it “one of the year’s finest films.” He says that the film meant a lot to him on a personal level and is something that everybody can relate to. Tapley especially highlights the brilliant effort put forth by Jason Reitman:

But the star of the production is Jason Reitman, who has crafted a screenplay both profound and entertaining, one with comedic rhythms that sing and emotional beats that resonate.  That the effort is wrapped, on the surface, in a very timely tale that will hit the zeitgeist at just the right moment is testament to his patience with the project, one that has been nourished from a harmless romp, through a life accentuated by significant change, into a work of art.

Peter Sciretta of /Film is another voice that is highly praising the film. Unlike Tapley, Sciretta admits that the film “isn’t flawless.” However, he agrees that it is Reitman’s most personal film ever:

Up in the Air is charming, funny, moving, and timely. It makes you ask questions of yourself. Is your backpack too heavy? Is that a bad or good thing? All of the characters in the film represent a different philosophy on relationships, each one easily relatable in their own way. And while all of the characters come to their own conclusions, Reitman doesnt force feed you a message (although he does provide a couple) or provide judgements on these characters, and his film doesn’t end tied with a shinny red ribbon.

One of the people in the film getting the highest praise is supporting actress Anna Kendrick. Alex Billington of First Showing says that she kept her own with Clooney:

I can’t end this reaction without expressing my admiration for Anna Kendrick, who I’ve fallen even more in love with after this. Kendrick plays a young hotshot newcomer to Bingham’s company that wants to change the way they work. His boss makes him take her out on the road to show her the ropes and not only is it funny to see all of that (she’s an air travel newbie), but her relationship with Bingham I think is the best part of the film. She goes toe-to-toe with Clooney in a big way, which was beyond impressive for an up-and-coming actress like her.

Todd McCarthy of Variety admires Kendrick’s performance, but he says that the show is all about Clooney:

Clooney has scarcely ever been more magnetic onscreen than he is here as Ryan Bingham, a gun-for-hire who specializes in the dirty work some corporate bosses don’t like to do themselves, firing employees.

Impeccably groomed and with a ready answer to almost any remark anyone can throw at him, Clooney owns his role in the way first-rate film stars can, so infusing the character with his own persona that everything he does seems natural and right. The timing in the Clooney-Farmiga scenes is like splendid tennis, with each player surprising the other with shots but keeping the rally going to breathtaking duration.

The last voice to add to the chorus is Anne Thompson of indieWIRE. In her review she does the best job of pointing out why Up in the Air is more than just an impressive personal effort, but an important social film.

But times are changing and Ryan’s air-travel miles are endangered when his job as a downsizer no longer requires flying: they will give the news via video conferencing instead. Young corp exec Anna Kendrick (Rocket Science) shadows Ryan on the road as he attempts to show her the more human face of delivering bad news. The movie reveals the gap between the tech-savvy younger generation and their elders. At one point Kendrick is on the phone with her boyfriend and says, “I don’t even think of him that way, he’s old.” Clooney does a double take in the mirror. She later tells him he’s in a “cocoon of self-banishment.” Looking lean, fit and grey, Clooney opens up here, moving from cockily confident “I am a rock” status to yearning vulnerability.

The bottom line seems to be that as the Awards race begins to heat up, Up in the Air is becoming a likely candidate for the festival favorite that everyone keeps talking about through the season. We still have to wait for reactions from Toronto, the place where Award contenders are made.

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