Last night at the Paris Theater in New York City, Travel + Leisure’s editor-in-chief, Nancy Novogrod, introduced director Jason Reitman and his new movie, Up in the Air, starring George Clooney. The creator of some of the smartest films in recent years—Juno (2007) and Thank You for Smoking (2005)—gave special thanks to his father seated in the audience, Hollywood film producer-director Ivan Reitman, before the lights went down.
Based on the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn, one of the T+L’s contributing editors, Up in the Air is a film for travelers—and for the times. George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, an Omaha-based axe-man for hire who spends 322+ days a year on the road doing the bidding of distressed companies, racking up frequent flier miles, and relishing his untethered life. “Make no mistake, moving is living,” he atones.
But two women eat away at Bingham’s world view: Alex Goran, an even more hardened road warrior played by Vera Farmiga, and his fresh-from-college colleague with a lot to learn, Natalie Keener, played by up-and-comer Anna Kendrick.
In true Reitman style, the soundtrack—which features music by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Graham Nash, and Kevin Renick, an out-of-work St. Louis musician who convinced Reitman to use his song—also has a starring role.
What is, on the surface, is a film about travel—complete with a dizzying string airport lounges, Hilton hotel rooms scenes, and Hertz #1 Gold Club references—is ultimately story about the importance of human connection, especially when times get tough. In Bingham’s words, “Life’s lonely without company. Everyone needs a co-pilot.” Indeed.
The cast, T+L staff, and such boldface names as Billy Crudup, Maria Bartolomo, and Judah Friedlander partied until well after midnight at Midtown hot spot, Tomate Rouge.
Look for Up in the Air in theaters this Christmas.
Adrien Glover is the online deputy editor at Travel + Leisure.