Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. Written by
A large amount of the people we see fired in the film are not actors, but people who were recently laid off. The filmmakers put out ads in St. Louis and Detroit posing as a documentary crew looking to document the effect of the recession. When people showed up, they were instructed to treat the camera like the person who fired them and respond as they did, or use the opportunity to say what they wished they had. A way to discern who are the actors, and who are the real people, is that the real people do not have dialogue with George Clooney or Anna Kendrick, as they were shot separately. Jason Reitman did this intentionally, feeling that the real people would freak out Clooney and Kendrick. See more »
If the company switches to firing people over the internet they would eventually have to lay off their own employees. See more »
[Ryan overhears Natalie talking about him on the phone to her boyfriend]
No, I don't think of him that way; he's old.
[Startled, Ryan looks in the mirror]
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Over the end credits, the camera glides over the clouds. Much like the view from a plane. See more »
I really liked the movie, it kind of invites you to bring your own wine. There's a lot of probing into modern life and relationships, and it's up to you what you take from the film and what you feel for each of the characters. I was quite grateful for having seen Reitman's Thank You For Smoking (2005) previously, because both movies are really arch in the way they set up people in thoroughly pariah job roles and then get you to warm to them. So it didn't really come as a shock to see Clooney as an HR consultant (Ryan Bingham) whose job is to fire people in redundancy exercises where the management are too yeller, instead it rated an amused and knowing eyebrow raise.
Although a lot of the movie concerns the workplace, the disconnect between the interests of corporates and the interests of society (a link that was present historically in America, but which has been irrevocably decoupled), and how to work in that environment, the interest for me was more to do with relationships. From my male perspective there are some fairly poisonous insights into the female mind (though it may be unfair to generalise), the young Cornell grad Natalie Keener (played by Anna Kendrick) talks about her preconceptions of the man she will meet, the kind of name he will have, apparently the only thing he will love more than her is their "golden lab". The slightly older perspective from Alex Goran (played by Vera Farmiga) is that the man should be taller, should earn more, and come from a good family. To go with the aeronautical theme of the movie, the theatre should have provided some sick bags.
The main theme is, for me, pure Frank Borzage, it's about earning the right to love and be loved. In common with 80 years ago when those movies were being made, it's an onus that only weighs upon the male of the species, which makes the film a little hackneyed.
My favourite ambiguity of the film would have to be the backpack lectures that Bingham (Clooney) gives. He has a whole metaphor about everything in your life, the people, the trinkets, all the stuff you can collect, being in a backpack and weighing you down. He says that people aren't swans, they're not meant to be together forever, that they're actually sharks, who have to keep swimming continually, weighed down by nothing. I think there's an element of truth to both poles, I can see both arguments. I just love going to a Hollywood movie and not having an opinion shoved down my throat.
I had a slight problem regarding the level of realism in the film, I felt that the air-commuter lifestyle that was being shown was over-slicked, like I was watching something of a feather with The Consequences Of Love (or Giulia Doesn't Sleep At Night, two of the great modern hyper-stylised films from Italy). Nothing wrong with stylisation, except that I think Jason was trying to go for a film that had a lot of resonance with Recession America. I felt it was awkward to introduce real-life folks at the end, and also realistic looking termination assessments (or whatever they're called when you can someone), when the actors such as Clooney and Vera Farmiga were just so damned suave, as if from a different universe.
And this is to Claire.
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