Greenbergaims to recapture the raw flavor and psychological acuity of 1970s character portraits likeFive Easy Pieces--but the character in question is completely of the moment. Neurotic and anxious Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) comes to L.A. to stay in his brother's house, where he reconnects with old bandmates and falls, with painful awkwardness, into a relationship with his brother's personal assistant, Florence Marr (Greta Gerwig, sweetheart of the "mumblecore" movement). But this movie is not about plot--it's about human frailty and finding a moral or spiritual significance in caring for a dog or driving someone on an errand. Stiller sheds his usual bag of twitchy tricks and conveys the brittle spirit of a man defeated by his own intelligence. Gerwig has an odd, hapless charm; she makes aimlessness appealing. As a romance, the movie falters--while it's obvious why Roger would be attracted to Florence's youth and vulnerability, it's less clear why Florence wouldn't be repelled by Roger's sometimes-cruel instability. But writer-director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) has gotten even better at capturing the history of two people with brief, incisive strokes; Roger's prickly history with his friends becomes vividly clear in a few conversations. As a core sampling of the contemporary psyche,Greenbergis rewarding. Also featuring excellent performances by Jennifer Jason Leigh (eXistenZ) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill).--Bret Fetzer
*** out of **** Noah Baumbach knows a lot about the truths hidden beneath human nature. He seems to know how to reach his audience through his understanding of humanity. As he demonstrated in "The Squid and the Whale", and now in the somewhat inferior "Greenberg", Baumbach hopes to strike that certain emotional chord in us all. And by golly, the man has done it again. While I didn't like "Greenberg" as much as I liked "The Squid and the Whale", Baumbach's latest is as deep … more
Roger Greenberg, an anxious and unsettled middle-aged man from New York City, is house and dog sitting for his older brother in L.A. He meets up with Florence, her brother's beautiful but insecure personal assistant, and calls awkwardly upon old friends with whom he has a checkered past. They get together, but he's prone to self-sabotage and is not an easy man to be with. The film is intrigued by him, but perhaps more intriguing is Florence, and the most serious question that … more
GREENBERG 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 … more
Don't go into this one thinking you'll get the usual Ben Stiller gig - it's him, and it's recognizable as an extreme variation on the character types he normally plays, but this is really a Noah Baumbach film. Beautifully filmed, excellent acting - especially by Greta Gerwig -and an intriguing character study. I liked it a lot - but I expect some will hate it.
A "romantic comedy/drama" featuring depressed and unlikable people is a tough sell. That GREENBERG works to the degree it does is a testament to the good writing and outstanding acting...but it cannot completely overcome the essential problem embedded in its premise. That doesn't mean a movie about unlikable people is a bad idea, but expecting such a film to receive a warm, loving embrace by the audience is a bit of a stretch. Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) a New York based … more