Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Woman who Played George Clooney (Spoiler Alert)

I didn't see it coming. Did you? I believed that the woman in Up in the Air was every bit as busy as Clooney with her crazy flight and work schedule. It was difficult for me to imagine a woman being able to manage the emotions of the intensifying relationship between them, though, and then turn her back and catch a plane, but I chalked it up to one more aspect of contemporary society that I don't understand emotionally. I figured maybe young women today are possibly more inured to heartbreaks, both the getting and the giving, since so many topics are so openly discussed in public these days. Maybe this is what the level playing field looks like: we are all able to use each other, men and women alike.

I thought, But I know myself. If I had spent that much wonderful time with Ryan (George Clooney), I'd have wanted more than the occasional airport tryst. I'd have tried to keep my head, but my heart would have been racing ahead to thoughts such as, This feels different. I really like this man. I'd like to see more of him. I'd like a normal relationship. The Road Warrior life wears a woman down. I know. I did it for a few years and couldn't tell the difference between Arizona and Connecticut because all I saw was the inside of airports and hotels.

So in the movie of the supposed role reversal -- as Ryan/Clooney feels his own passion build, leaves the podium from a speaking engagement, and flies to Alix's home in Chicago presumably to profess his love -- we are asked to believe that the loving, attentive, sexy woman he has fallen for has been playing him the way generations of men have done the same to unsuspecting women across the country.

We learn she has a husband, and children: she has what she calls a real life. That her time spent with Ryan/Clooney is a diversion.

I don't buy it.

You can't just write a man's perspective into a women's role in a script and expect me to believe that's how a woman would behave. I don't care which generation she calls home. This woman was aware of her own feelings, and those of her lover Ryan/Clooney. We are asked to forget about any guilt or shame or ambivalence she might feel as a wife and mother, and believe that she would not inadvertently display some of this pathos in her behavior.

This movie is based on a novel written by Walter Kim, with a screenplay by Sheldon Turner and Jason Reitman. It was directed by Jason Reitman. I don't know why they thought all they would have to do is switch the dialogue in order to switch the traditional roles. It takes more insight, and a lot bigger heart, to do that.

I'd rather have seen the same story written by a woman and directed by Nancy Meyers. Then perhaps we'd have had more than a gotcha cartoon. We might even have seen compassion.

What do you think of the man scorned turn of this movie?

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