14A, 109 minutes
Anna Kendrick, George Clooney, Vera Farmiga
Jason Reitman follows Juno with a timely look at the present middle-class recession. Clooney plays an out-sourced HR hitman, roaming America, conducting exit interviews with efficient, graceful empathy until his own job — his entire lifestyle — is made redundant by a young, hyper-efficient college grad. The movie eventually becomes sentimental and predictable but the centerpiece is a three-way barroom conversation between the characters of Clooney, Farmiga and Kendrick. Clooney opens with the movie’s best line, but then retreats and offers unselfish support to the women (Kendrick, her façade unraveling in mundane lists for a carefully planned life; Farmiga, listening with grace and ease, before countering with steel), as they riff on their different expectations. The scene is perfectly acted (the movie is filled with excellent performances) and Clooney unselfishly listens and reacts but with an emotional connection rarely seen in his exit interviews. The last third is the poignant payoff for all this sublimated emotion and, while enjoyable, doesn’t offer the sharp snap of the earlier chemistry between the leads.