Because I wait for dollar video rentals at Red Box I finally saw the film Up In The Air and agree with many others that it is a marvelous film with superior acting and remarkable direction and film editing. The messages in this film are many. One that struck me was the persistent attention to loyalty when it comes to consumers and the rewards that companies offer them but not to their workers.
Three companies are featured repeatedly, presumably because they paid some hefty fees to the film’s production companies: American Airlines, Hilton hotels and Hertz rental cars. The main character played by George Clooney who travels incessantly from company to company and fires people from their jobs lives his life with emphasis on reaping the benefits of being a loyal, frequent customer of these companies. And here is the great irony presented by this film: When it comes to workers, the concept of loyalty between employer and workers has essentially disappeared.
What the film features over and over is how workers are terminated from their jobs and how this brutal event happens to so many people who never expect it and have no hope of recovering from their loss. Their loyalty to their companies goes completely unrewarded.
Clooney’s character tries to insert some humanity and caring into his job, but clearly there is very little that can be done to soften the blow of being fired. That this film is such a hit during these terrible economic times when unemployment and underemployment are so awful and widespread is itself rather remarkable. The message clearly is that corporate America does whatever it wants to maintain its profitability without any regard to the price paid by its workers and that it is willing to spend a lot of money on professionals that come in to fire its workers. Corporate culture is brutal. But companies want your loyalty as consumers.
What is more than a little depressing is that Clooney’s character finally seems to find what has been missing from his own life, a genuine relationship with another person, when he falls in love with a woman who seems to share his own lifestyle – constantly up in the air. But then he discovers that his cynical views about humanity seem all too valid when his love interest is revealed to have a totally different life than he assumed she had.
If you value great films, then make it a high priority to see Up In The Air. There is nothing up in the air about the quality of this movie.