“Up in the Air” (2009)

Like Jason Reitman’s last movie, Juno, Up in the Air manages to be both a big and little movie at the same time. It’s neither an indie nor a big-budget star vehicle, but rather a character-driven investigation of personal dreams, despair, and interpersonal connection. It draws no conclusions and provides no easy answers, or easily understood characters. Clooney is sexy and charming, but no more so than is the captivating Vera Farmiga. Kendrick does a fine job in the role of the snippy newbie, and J.K. Simmons stands out, as always, even in a small role. This is more superbly crafted and acted than the average indie, and is more thoughtful than the average big-budget film. It’s not perfect; in the end it can’t quite balance its themes of bitter and sweet. But its attempt to do so is admirable, and worth seeing.

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