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I felt terrible watching this film as I related to the main character so much as he was constantly inconsiderate and unable to let go of his own neuroses. That is Noah Baumbach's great talent as he, like Woody Allen before him, writes films from the perspective of difficult, often unlikable people who we can't help but feel for even as they treat those around them awfully. I was expecting to like this film because I love The Squid and the Whale (2005) and I really enjoyed Frances Ha (2012) but I can't help but feel ever so slightly disappointed as the film has it's moments but drags for long periods of time. Seeing Greta Gerwig and Ben Stiller together is delightful as they show that they have both comedic and dramatic talents and that's definitely the reason to watch this film.
Roger Greenberg, Ben Stiller, is staying at the home of his wealthy brother for six weeks as his brother and his family holiday in Vietnam having recently suffered a nervous breakdown. He begins a sexual relationship with the family's personal assistant Florence Marr, Greta Gerwig, which doesn't progress further due to his fear of commitment and criticism of her. He struggles to reconcile who he is with what he wanted to be when he was an aspiring rock star in his youth and his reconciliation with ex band mate Ivan Schrank, Rhys Ifans, is strained due to conflict over a record deal when they were young. He eventually decides to make a compassionate decision when he chooses to help an ailing Florence instead of impulsively pursuing his own selfish needs.
We see Greenberg being positively insufferable as he assumes that those who barely know him are interested in his criticisms of American Airlines and the music at Starbucks amongst other frustrating behaviors but we can identify some of his awfulness in ourselves. We can see those around him realize what a loser he is five minutes before he does and it is saddening but it also feels eerily similar to moments in our own lives. His desire to look back instead of living in the present and insistence that he listens to Duran Duran ironically all add to the sense that this a man in arrested development. Although I am much younger than him I worry and highly suspect that I will end up like him at that age without having the success he had when he was young.
His relationship with Florence is depressing as we see an older, immature man take advantage of a young, bright woman with low self confidence who doesn't see how brilliant she is. It eventually dawns on her that he is a loser not deserving of her affection or tireless support but like most abusers when she eventually stops tending to his every need he decides he wants her back and cryptically tries to tell her that he is sorry. It was a relief to watch this cycle end but we still worry about Florence as it seems like she could fall prey to another version of Greenberg if she doesn't keep her wits about her. I felt happy that these two would part because I wanted to see her find someone who could appreciate her and him learn something from this failed relationship and adjust his approach to romancing women. This relationship felt realistic though, as much of the film does, which made it melancholy but worth watching.
I would call Ben Stiller's performance as Greenberg one of the best of 2010 as he completely inhabits his character as he feels like he isn't really playing a part. He appears to have no self awareness but no fear of appearing like an inconsiderate asshole and although he incorporates elements of Woody Allen and other comedic performers into his performance it feels original enough to be authentic. He should have won Best Actor over Colin Firth in The King's Speech (2010) in my opinion but he was unlikely to be rewarded for a film like this.
This is a film that I would definitely recommend because I like this type of film and this is a good example of the genre but it's not one of Baumbach's best films.
Terrible did not like this film at all, reading description thought it would be good. It falls flat and you do not care about the characters. It is one of the worst most disappointing films I have ever seen.
Self indulgent rubbish, a lead character who is a complete rat with no redeeming features, and then after way too long the movie just ends.
I liked this movie. I like Ben Stiller protrayal of a 40 something with life issues and very self important opinion of himself who kicks off at the drop of a hat. Greta Gerwig he has nice chemistry with. He is not very nice to her in the movie but she has a lovely personality. All in all a very strange but watchable movie. I thought Rhys Ifans played a good part as his long suffering friend. He is not English by the way as Ben Stiller stated in the movie. He is Welsh. He retained his Welsh accent. Best scenes. Awkward intimacy meets with Stiller/Gerwig. The party at the end was quite amusing where he interacts with a bunch of teens. I think he must have some kind of Autism, maybe Ashbergers? Would explain some of his treatment of others. All in all very watchable. Watch out for a young Brie Larson, shes not in it long, toward the end at the party.
It doesn't surprise me that, after-the-fact, I found out that this movie was directed by Noah Baumbach. The direction is unique, painfully slow at times (intentionally) and physically makes me squirm in my chair while watching because the uncomfortable things happening to the characters in this movie are entirely too real. Mid-life crisis is an understatement here. A man so arrogant that he believes he's better and deserving of so much more than he's received in life, which has turned to pure bitterness. At the same time, that bitterness is tempered with sporatic episodes of maturity and responsibility. That dichotomy results in very schizophrenic behavior toward the friends and family he loves. At times he's defensive of the mistakes he's made that brought him to the misery he is currently experiencing, while he also calms down and realizes that he shouldn't blame and that he, in fact, is causing his own misery. It's painful to watch and so uncomfortable to the viewer, especially me who experiences bouts of the same thing every now and then (though to a lesser extent). One almost has to be older to appreciate what this movie is saying, but even those open to its content have to also get past the brutal way Noah brings it to the screen. The Squid and the Whale was depressing enough. It makes me wonder how depressed Noah is to consistently present this much raw pain. However, what makes the movie is its optimistic, and sweet, ending.
3.5/5.0 stars - Grade: B
okay, this is you..
What's appreciative here is how mildly; the whole episode which is efficient and affluent for the characters, is represented that even though it factors in a lot in its development and gravitas, it still isn't a game changer. The range and connectivity that this genre offers is something that other features will always lack and Noah Baumbach somehow seems to have cracked the enigma and now flaunts it majestically on screen and on paper with Jessica Jason Leigh; this time. Ben Stiller has definitely grown himself into a plausible actor that resonates and connects easily with practicality and is supported thoroughly by brilliant Greta Gerwig who too puts all her chips in. Greenberg has a smart written concept and ideology to work its way through the bigger and better dramatic acts that oozes humanity and demands attention from the audience with the help of stellar performance, gripping screenplay and perfect execution.
Being a character driven movie, and i found nothing compelling about stiller's character, the movie was a tedious study of a relatively inflexible character
Quite possibly Ben Stiller's career-best work. 'Greenberg' is real, sharp and beautifully awkward.
One of my favorite Stiller movies, Ive seen it 100 times and can watch it 100 more