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Something very interesting and smart that the director does is starting the film from Florence's (Greta Gerwig) perspective. Florence is Roger Greenberg's (Ben Stiller) brother's assistant. His brother and family are going away on vacation to Vietnam and Greenberg comes to his brother's house in L.A to stay after living in New York City and coming off of a recent stint in a mental hospital. While Greenberg is the main character, the film starts with Florence and we are shown in a brief period of time what her life is like. She has a best friend named Gina, she is a good and hard working assistant and she goes to a bar where she eventually has a one night stand which is clearly irregular and dissatisfying for her. She is awkward; certainly not someone who asserts herself around others. She is not meek though; she is just not quite sure of herself as an individual yet.Read more ›
The film follows Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), a 40-year-old man who has recently suffered a nervous breakdown and is now struggling to just "do nothing." He returns to L.A., where he had grown up and had a semi-successful rock band, and housesits for his brother, Phillip (Chris Messina), while he and his family are away on an extended vacation. Greenberg meets his brother's assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), and begins a halting, awkward romance with her. He reconnects with his old band mates -- including Ivan (Rhys Ifans) -- who are still bitter about a record deal that Roger ruined 15 years ago. Roger also attempts to date Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an old girlfriend, but she rejects him.
The film is unconventional. I do disagree, however, that everyone in this film is unlikable. Greta Gerwig is excellent as Greenberg's love interest, as is Jennifer Jason Leigh, Noah Baumbach's wife. The film is out of the mainstream, but when looking at all of the junk coming out of Hollywood these days, that is a good thing.
If you liked films like "The Squid and the Whale" or some of Wes Anderson's work, and you are willing to go in with an open mind, I recommend this film.
fascinating and sometimes maddening.
Ben Stiller plays a truly unlikable 'hero', a man so angry that he
can't maintain any sort of real friendship, much less romantic
What's admirable about the film, is that all the acting is so rich and
subtle, as is the writing, that no one ends up a caricature.
There's also an admirable unwillingness to give into convention, to
provide easy answers or heartwarming redemption. This is about a man
maybe taking the first step from A to B and we're not sure in the end
he'll even make it that far.
On the downside, there is a certain repetitiveness to it. We 'get'
Greenberg and his anger, and sometimes the going in circles feels like
just filling time instead of proving a point about how stuck the
character is emotionally.
Also, there's mention of Greenberg's vulnerability, but if that had
been allowed to be just a bit more evident it might have better
balanced his off-putting downside. As is, on first viewing, the film
felt a bit removed and intellectual.
But I could easily imagine that impression changing on revisiting, now
that I'm prepared for it's dark and difficult tone.
In any case, I found this a very good, if challenging film that's well worth
seeing, from one of our most interesting creators of complex characters.
On the other hand, it certainly won't be to everyone's taste or mood. I have
a feeling reactions to a film that has this much 'nails on a chalkboard' feeling
is a very individual, subjective matter.
Lots of well-known critics gave this movie positive reviews. I can't agree that it's "Extremely Entertaining!" or "The wonder of the film is how good it makes us feel." More like extremely irritating throughout and relief when it was over.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
--- And that role is the family mutt's. He, a big canine named Mahler, is a large and affable German Shepherd, for hound's sake. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Celil Parker
Received this yesterday and the plastic clip (that holds the dvd) was broken and the dvd was in the case loose and scratched. Read morePublished 7 months ago by jplaud11
A neutral review because after two attempts and two billings the file failed to download to my TV. Apple TV, Netflix and many other shows download with no problem. Read morePublished 13 months ago by ET
I kept expecting there to be a point that I would enjoy it. It was drudgery watching it until the end, but I paid for it. So I kept on going.Published 14 months ago by Koloa Fekai
This movie is sort of the definition of mediocre. It has a real resounding flatline feel to it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with tackling the whole subject of aging, regret,... Read morePublished 16 months ago by samspennell