Others have already remarked on the timeliness of Up in the Air, which meditates upon the efficacy of alienation, in our throw-away society, to help us survive a brutal recession. To its many positive reviews, I only wish to note its seamless interweave of documentary and dramatic filmmaking. I'd assumed the many "terminated employees" in the cast were actors, but later read that Jason Reitman interviewed people who'd been "let go" and asked them what they'd like to say to the human resources bureaucrats who gave them the bad news.
In the fifties, many low budget war films cut away from scenes that were crisply filmed in sound studios to grainy sixteen millimeter footage of actual battles. The effect was visually shabby, and worse, demeaning to the soldiers whose genuine peril was of less immediacy to the audience than that of the actors.
There is no such condescension in this film. The ex-employees movingly reveal their pain, distress, and sense of betrayal, with no sacrifice of their dignity. Indeed, only veteran actor Steve Eastin is called upon to become unglued. His virtuosity resonates with what so many in the film and in the audience have experienced. That's what we hire actors to do for us. It's what theatrical visionary Jerzy Grotowski taught is the holy mission of the actor.