Friday, March 26, 2010


Written and Directed by Noah Baumbach
Starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh

Florence: Hurt people hurt people.

Noah Baumbach, the Oscar-nominated writer and director of THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, has a knack for creating characters that are troubled and difficult to be around. His fascination with giving a voice to those no one wants to hear, shows his immense sympathy as a writer and director, but it also means that his characters are not easy to endure for two hours straight. In his latest film, GREENBERG, he gives us another gem of a man – complicated, broken and the kind you would desperately avoid if you could.

Ben Stiller is this man, one Roger Greenberg. Fresh from his time in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown, Greenberg has left the comforts of New York City to do nothing for a while at his brother’s place in Los Angeles. While in the city, he meets up with buddies and ex-girlfriends from his rock star youth days but not because he wants to. He does so because it is a lot easier than forming any new relationships in his life. The supporting cast - Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh representing the old and Greta Gerwig charmingly representing the new - struggle too but the way they handle themselves only further shows how little dealing Greenerg is actually doing. Still that naïve, failed rocker, he has not progressed past his glory days and he is quickly realizing that they weren’t so glorious to begin with.

Stiller doesn’t have to try very hard to be unlikable but he still does the depth of Greenberg’s sorrow justice all the same. Successfully capturing a character that is so narcissistic and oblivious not an easy feat. The more successful you are though, the more you run the risk of alienating everyone watching. You want to like Greenberg; you can tell the people around him want to like him; but until he actually considers liking himself, there isn’t a lot to like about him. Fortunately for him, at least Baumbach still has his back, and fortunately for us, Baumbach still has ours too.



Candice Frederick said...

nice review. i was thinking about seeing this movie but wasn't sure. thanks!

Black Sheep said...

Cool, thanks. And considering, I'm on the fence with it, what did you decide? Are you seeing it or not?

Aiden R. said...

Good review, man. Seeing this over the weekend, looking forward to it.

Black Sheep said...

Hey, thanks, Aiden. I hope you like it. Are you a fan of his other work?

Luke said...

Good review. I can't wait to see it. I read an interview with Stiller in Rolling Stone and it got me a little interested.

Derek Armstrong said...

I'll be writing about this on my blog on Monday. Love the number of perceptive nuggets in the dialogue. Also thought Greta Gerwig was darling.

Jean said...

Cool review. I love the characterization and the indie spirit of this movie. Glad you liked it as most critics are not enthusiastic about it.