Up in the Air

Rated 4.0

Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air doesn’t finish quite as pungently as it begins, but the greater part of it has a very sharp, darkly comical bite. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a star in his peculiarly timely profession a combination of motivational speaker and corporate enforcer, and he is much in demand with downsized and/or failing businesses that require his special talents in disarmingly announcing to long-time employees that they’ve been permanently laid off. He is also, by his own admission, a kind of human shark—always in motion and only at home in airports, hotels, conference rooms and the business-class seats of jetliners. Bingham’s oddly charismatic sang-froid gets tested in a variety of ways in his perpetually out-of-town romance with the similarly shark-like Alex (Vera Farmiga), in the professional and emotional challenges generated by the fresh-out-of-grad-school Natalie (Anna Kendrick) and in his reluctant but inevitable involvement in the wedding of his younger sister. Clooney is at his charmingly ironic best in this role, and Farmiga matches him spark for icy spark. Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R