A termination specialist contends with the potential automation of his job.
Directed by Jason Reitman
Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick
So I was presently surprised that this movie succeeds in breaking through the B+ ceiling, though I’m not certain it is actually a rom com.
I don’t care to go through the performances too terribly much here as everyone did a fantastic job. I still don’t know if Anna Kendrick is attractive or not, but I can say that she is definitely not attractive with the pulled back hair. But I guess that’s a bit misogynistic. But it’s not misogynistic to not how handsome George Clooney always is. (Even made fun of his eyebrows!) Whatever, I refuse to check my privilege at the door.
The relationships are what make this movie go beyond a B+.
I thought the dialogue here was superb. These characters interacted in natural ways. I thought the development between Kendrick and Clooney was impressive. I like that they didn’t necessarily agree with each other, though they definitely began to respect each other. That’s how real life works. I feel like on television that either you agree completely or you’re enemies. There’s no in-between. But in real relationships, it’s just not like that. (I also loved her line about not wanting to be anti-feminist. It sounds exactly like something any current recent college graduate might bring up. Bravo.)
I enjoyed the relationship between Clooney and Vera Farmiga’s character as the main love interest. It was an interesting role reversal to have Clooney missing all of the signs that she just wasn’t interested in a legitimate relationship. She was pretty blunt about what she expected and we just went along for the ride with Clooney. I thought they might be together and was ignoring the voice in the back of my end saying it wasn’t happening. I think we’ve all had a relationship like that. In the end, I love that she doesn’t apologize either. Just a “what the hell is wrong with you” despite the fact that she’s the adulterer. Another nice and realistic touch.
The next relationship is Clooney and his job. This is what he happily filled his time and soul with. His job was his identity, as it has been for countless people throughout history. It’s a relationship that he’s comfortable in and perhaps takes it for granted. He assumes it’ll always be there for him. But he’s ignoring that all relationships grow and change. As he’s firing all of these people, they keep saying how much time they’ve put in to their work. The time sacrificed. They sound like scorned lovers, taken by surprise that their significant others are leaving them for the cabana boy. They didn’t see it coming and their anger comes from all the time they thought they were building something. But a relationship is simply what you have in the moment. You don’t get to keep score. Clooney’s character is as blind to the fact that his job could change as the people that he was firing. He’s put in all this time and is building toward that frequent flyer mile goal, but his job doesn’t care. It’s growing and changing with or without him.
The final relationship is with Clooney and his family. Here he is, a jet-setter flying all over the country and visiting interesting places. He’s a big man. He’s successful and interesting. He motivates people. So here he comes home, a conqueror of the world. He expects to be lauded as a hero by his family. I LOVE that they don’t give a fuck at all. They don’t know him. Here’s another relationship where Clooney just isn’t being honest with himself. Eventually he gets his chance at saving the day and delivers a speech so well that he buys it himself, which is what really gets him in trouble with Farmiga. And he’s right. A job can keep you warm at night by paying the bills, but not as warm as someone in your bed. For most people, a job provides some fulfillment, but it’s the relationships, romantic or otherwise, that are truly fulfilling. Having those relationships is much more satisfying than hitting an arbitrary frequent flyer mark. This is why the family man in the suburbs driving a Dodge Stratus can be just as happy as Will Ferrell. Money/a job can make you more secure and comfortable, but it can’t do anything about you being lonely. (This reminds me a lot about addiction as well.)
Another theme I thought was important was the battle between new and old. This is a movie all about firing people as they’re no longer needed because the business is moving on to new things. It’s about Clooney’s job being updated to the modern era and being present only on a computer. We have a hard time embracing the new, though the new is always going to win out. (Here, Clooney’s job is merely saved temporarily by someone’s suicide, the change is inevitable.) I like that the movie showed us the importance of human interaction, but at the end of the day, a person fired is a person fired. It’s upsetting. Honestly, Kendrick’s business plan is an excellent one.
Speaking of the people being fired, adding people who had just been fired to explain how they feel was risky because not everyone is natural behind a camera. I could tell who the actors were, but that's because the non-actors were giving us real emotion and were more persuasive. Well done.
The last thing in the positives I’ll talk about is the camera work. I loved how slick and tight the shots of the travel were. It is Clooney’s fine-tuned ritual. He knows how it’s done by heart. And he can provide fantastically witty remarks and anecdotes to go along with the shots we’re seeing. But then when he begins to touch into his family, the director (Jason Reitman) goes to a hand held camera that is shaky and softer. I thought it wasn’t an easy path, but the Reitman succeeds here and the contrast is enjoyable.
For negatives, I got a little bored during the second song/montage. Long musical montages are just not my cup of tea.
Also, I didn’t like how he walked off of stage. This is the type of silliness normally seen in rom-coms. Had he said, “I have to go fill my bag with love you guys,” it would have ruined the movie. Glad he only quietly walks away. Glad they didn’t have him change his speech into something rousing on the fly as well. That’s been done and is just as silly. He should have done what we all do every Tuesday: Mail it the fuck in at work because you’re crazy distracted.
So, is this a rom com? Is my A- unreasonable? Am I overthinking the themes here? Did you guys notice the camerawork? Does anyone else feel like those little liquor bottles are cooler than pouring booze out of a big bottle? Would this be a good pint night selection?
Good movie. Rewatchable. Enjoyable. A-