We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Ryan Bingham is the Organization Man for the 2000s. He never comes to the office. Technically, he doesn't have an office, he has an address where his employer has an office. His life is devoted to visiting other people's offices, and firing them. “Up in the Air” takes the trust people once had in their jobs and pulls out the rug. It is a film for this time.
Bingham describes himself as a Termination Facilitator. He fires people for a living. When corporations need to downsize quickly but hate the mess, he flies in and breaks the news to the new former employees. In hard times, his business is great.
This isn't a comedy. If it were, it would be hard to laugh in these last days of 2009. Nor is it a tragedy. It's an observant look at how a man does a job. Too many movie characters have jobs involving ruling people, killing them, or going to high school. Bingham loves his work. He doesn't want a home. He doesn't want a family. He gives self-help lectures on how and why to unpack the backpack of your life.
George Clooney plays Bingham as one of those people you meet but never get to know. They go through all the forms, and know all the right moves, and you're “friends,” but — who's in there? At his funeral, people confess they never really knew him. Sitting in a first-class seat one day, asked where he lives, Bingham says, “Here.”