There is something very old-school about the look and feel of this movie. From the typography of the opening credits, to the country-sounding music, to the drab, unglamorous backdrops such as Detroit and Omaha.
The story centers on a middle-aged man named Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), who travels the country firing people for a living. He is a perfect fit for his job – not only is he commitment-phobic, he loves flying.
He has become an expert of sorts in the fine art of living from one airport terminal to another. He packs light, knows that the best line to follow is the one behind the efficient Asians, and his one main goal in life is to earn 10 million frequent flyer miles on his American Airlines card.
On his downtime, he is something of a motivational speaker. The main message of his talks is – relationships slow you down. Better to cut ties than to carry around all that extra baggage.
Things are going fine for him until he meets two women that will make him rethink his chosen lifestyle. One is Natalie (played pitch perfectly by Anna Kendrick), the young office hotshot that threatens to make Bingham’s cross-country travels extinct when she introduces what is essentially, Skype. (Why fire people face to face when you can do it over the internet?)
Then there is Alex (Vera Farmiga), the female equivalent of Ryan – smart, sassy, always traveling, and not a bit interested in being tied down.
Through Natalie’s innocence and idealism, Ryan is forced to look at his own cynicism right in the face. Through the lovely Alex, Ryan is compelled to acknowledge the fact that maybe, there is someone that he wants to stick around with, for the first time in his life.
The movie is understated but masterful. Something you could expect from director Jason Reitman (Juno) who specializes in small stories that have a great emotional resonance
The scenes are all underplayed, but with such brilliant dialogue, that it achieves what most movies fail to do — strike a chord within your heart that is true, that hits very close to home.
Because, in the end, Ryan’s life does not follow the path he’s been so keen on following all this time. He decides to take a chance, to take a leap of faith. And he ends up disappointed. Maybe even heartbroken.
Most of us have been a Ryan Bingham at one point in our lives, or have known someone like him. We’ve all had our dreams shattered, our hearts broken, and we find ourselves changed, maybe even stronger or hopeful. Or maybe some of us end up like Ryan – resigned to his fate, and trying to be strong about it.
These two – because I think it may be something I would have said, if I were that articulate.
“Sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it’s not gonna matter until I find the right guy. I could have made it work, he really fit the bill, you know. White collar, 6’1, college grad, loves dogs, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy. I always imagined he’d have a single syllable name like Matt or John or Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4 runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. And a nice smile. What about you?” (Natalie to Alex)
“You’ve set up a way of life, that basically makes it impossible for you to make any human connections. Now, somehow, this woman runs the gauntlet of your ridiculous “life choice” and comes out the other end with a smile — just so you can call her CASUAL?” (Natalie to Ryan).
Watch when you’re in your late 20s and life has tossed you around for quite a bit.