It definitely would have made it better

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Regarding Up in the Air, Jeffrey Wells writes,

As a reader of Walter Kirn's "Up In The Air", Matthew Morettini suspects that Jason Reitman shot Up In the Air with an undercurrent of fatality in mind -- i.e., George Clooney's Ryan Bingham suspecting his days may be numbered.

Those who haven't seen the film should know that spoilers follow.

"Kirn's 2001 novel is told in the first-person from Bingham's point-of-view," Morettini begins. "By the time we reach the third act, after a series of strange and confusing episodes, it becomes clear that Bingham is an unreliable narrator. It is only in the last few pages that we learn he has been suffering from seizures, black-outs for hours on end, and has an upcoming appointment at the Mayo clinic for treatment of this unnamed affliction.

"In short the book has a twist ending that makes you go back and rethink everything you read. I think director-cowriter Reitman had the same ending in mind when he made the movie only to pull his punches in post.

"The first clue to Reitman's intention is the 'Would you like the cancer?/Would you like the can, sir?' joke during Bingham's maiden flight. When I saw this scene, I immediately knew the meaning of the signal since I'd read the book. My presumption was that unlike Kirn in the novel, Reitman was going to be a bit more clever about planting clues about Bingham's health throughout the story.

"As it stands in the film now, without the twist, the 'cancer/can, sir' joke is an odd bit that doesn't really make sense. It's merely a joke that seems to have been written to demonstrate Bingham is preoccupied with thoughts of cancer and death.

"There are other hints of mortality. If you go back and watch the movie again in your mind, almost everything else Bingham does makes more sense if we suspects he may be dying.
It would have made the movie better, and definitely that ending, which made me think we need a sequel so Ryan can find his true love in that one, was missing something. Without that health subplot, it looks as if all of Ryan's changes were made in retrospect to Natalie's prompting rather than something he could have been mulling over for awhile.


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