This movie keeps me thinking.
The logline is “The story of a man ready to make a connection.”
But did you notice Ryan takes a chance on a woman who tells him “think of me as you with a vagina.” He isn’t taking a really big chance. Ryan projects himself onto Alex and then opens his heart to her. It’s narcissistic really. Not as narcissistic as he was before. But still….
Ryan loved wallowing in his childhood and family life with Alex but never did it occur to him to ask her about her life.
Maybe this is not a bad way to go. Jung describes men as having an anima, a feminine ideal or their feminine side which they project onto others and then attach to. Maybe this is just a technique built into the human condition for learning to join with others. The Lover/King start by projecting himslef onto someone else and practices loving that person. She’s easy to love because she is him.
Even if Alex accepted Ryan’s offer, eventually he has to notice the person he projects onto is not quite him. And the differences are surprisingly appealing and expanding and scary and annoying. And maybe it will be enough to take the death-like risk and love the real person. Or maybe not, if he’s just not that into her. In any event, the Lover/King is taken to a crossroads.
You know what this means. Up in the Air is ripe for a sequel, archetypally speaking. Ryan is merely at the crossroads. Will he submit to the Femme Fatale in Alex and accept her offer to just use each other to avoid growing up? This will make him the archetypal Coward or emasculate him in Freudian terms.
Or will Ryan become the Tyrant, willing to enter into a relationship now that he has tasted the benefits but always making sure he gets more than he gives. Nobody will make a chump of him again.
My hope is that he becomes the dieing and rising god. The final transformation of the Lover/King archetype. Either through growth with Alex or another woman he moves beyond projection to genuine love of another. I’m not exactly sure what that would look like but it involves a surrender to love as a higher purpose (an opening of the heart not to be confused with submission), the art of offering without measuring what you get in return, holding your power as an individual, a king, but allowing love of the feminine to give meaning to life.
I wanna see that movie!