DVD: Up in the Air (15)
This excellent film is given added frisson by the current spectacle of an aviation industry imploding in a fug of volcanic ash and strikes.
Its hero is Ryan (George Clooney), a man whose job is telling other people that they've lost theirs. Clocking up airmiles as he swoops in to deliver the bad news, he lives by the mantra "moving is living" and dreams of one day getting his name on the side of a plane.
Jason Reitman's stylish film has a Mad Men feel, fetishising the whirr of a wheel-on suitcase, the swipe of a frequent-flyer card, the rattle of ice in tiny glasses. As seen through Ryan's eyes, airports are the closest thing to heaven on earth until his nomadic lifestyle is threatened by the eruption of two strong women into his professional and private lives. Natalie (Anna Kendrick) is a bright young colleague who "types with purpose" and scatterguns her speech with buzzwords like "glocal", while Alex (Vera Farmiga) is a sexy exec who shares Ryan's taste for business trips with added bonuses. The scene is set for a classic rom-com, but Reitman avoids convention at almost every turn: his leads bond geekily over executive cards and laptops and court at unglamorous corporate shin-digs. This is romance with a knowing sting in the tail.
Clooney is on fine form, smarm just hiding hints of malaise and Jason Bateman is great as his bumptious boss. The film's real joy, though, lies in its two unpredictable female leads. Kendrick has rightly made her name with her brittle ball-breaker, while in Farmiga Clooney has met his perfect match.