We saw this film at a cineplex which was full of people escaping the heat on Australia Day 2010.  The first comment to make is that I suspect that over half the audience would have been disappointed in this film as, contrary to most "romantic comedies" coming out of the studios in America, this one did not end happily ever after!

Jason Reitman has co written a very dark and topical screenplay from a novel of the same name and then proceeded to direct it with a great deal of surety.  This film is funny  - most often in the one liners rather than any slapstick manufactured situations - thought provoking and quite dark.

Not being a fan of modern chat rooms, social sites and second life scenarios, this film struck a real chord with me.  The concept, firstly of employing a "consultant" to sack workers  - a business that is booming in the current economic climate in the USA - and then to increase efficiency and reduce costs  by doing this via video camera, is an almost surreal expose of 21st century life and one that pulled me up short.  There were lots of lovely ironic touches, for example, Natalie (Anna Kendrick) is dumped by her man by SMS  when she has been employed by the company to develop and sell the concept of sacking workers online and later when she herself quits by sending an SMS to her boss who laments the lack of manners today!

The main protaganist, Ryan, George Clooney, who lives on airlines and in hotel rooms and, because of his many thousands of miles travelled and nights in the same hotel chain, is rewarded for his loyalty by special advantages such as express check in etc.  No such rewards are given to the employees he is hired to sack -no matter how loyal they have been to the company.  An interesting aside is the fact that all the employees that are sacked by Clooney, are not actors but real people who have lost their jobs - which gives a degree of authenticity to these scenes.

Ryan meets up with Alex (Vera Farmiga) who similarly spends a great deal of her time in airports and hotels - there is a lovely scene when they compare loyalty cards and discuss the relative merits of hire car companies - this is their "real" world.  They form a casual alliance - as she says to him - "Just think of me as yourself with a vagina" - and it appeared that all would end happily ever after but thank goodness the director resisted!

The plot is straightforward but the relationships and lifestyles are what makes this movie interesting.  The women are fantastic in their roles  - particularly Anna Kendrick - while George Clooney is George Clooney.  He is believable in the role but does not take it to any great heights. 

All in all a lovely thought provoking movie - a surprise really  - one that just stops short of being a total expose of our computerised world.  Dare I suggest that Jason Reitman probably toned it down in order to get funding to make the movie?

Score:  7/10


What is there to add? Pepe has said it all.  This movie makes a very telling comment on our modern society where many people fail to connect in any meaningful way - employers & employees, lovers, brothers & sisters, husbands & wives.  Is it any wonder that marriages collapse?  And yet these people are constantly in contact by some technological gadget!  And what sort of society do we live in when there is a niche market for a company which specialises in sacking other companies' employees for them?  I would like to think this is fiction but it is probably not!

Ryan (Clooney) is a specialist in 'letting people go", having developed a suave and soothing speil.  In between times he freelances as a motivational speaker who basically encourages people to let go of their 'baggage' - in other words, personal life.  He himself finds meaning in life by clocking up miles in the air and avoiding any kind of relationship; his goal is to achieve 10 millions miles club and receive a special gold card for his loyalty.  When this finally happens, he  has already discovered what a hollow goal it was.  His co-worker, the 23 yo college graduate, Natalie, played superbly by Anna Kendrick is full of contradictions - clinically efficient when divising a computer program to sack people by video, but unable to avoid becoming emotionally involved when faced with the reactions of the real people.

Clooney actually plays this role very well because it suits him perfectly! And Vera Farmiga as his part-time lover is also very good.  There were lots of laughs and ironic situations - such as the Clooney character giving advice to the groom with cold feet.

This movie sent you away reflecting on where this modern world is heading... and as an added bonus you get to see many wonderful aerial photos from all over America!

Score:  7/10

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