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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.
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 ›
Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) a New York based carpenter who once had a shot at rock star glory, is recently out of a mental institution for severe depression. He's now in Hollywood, house-sitting for his brother and family, who are on extended vacation. House-sitting pretty much involves taking care of Mahler, the family German shepherd. And Roger is assisted in this minimal task by Florence (Greta Gerwig), the personal assistant of Roger's brother...she brings him groceries and essentially handles any small tasks Roger might have.
Thus, Roger is allowed to wallow in his self pity. He "engages" himself in the idea of constructing a doghouse for Mahler...and constantly insists that he's doing a great and noble and generous thing by building it. Yet, over the course of what feels like a few weeks, he only gets about halfway done. He is stuck in a malaise of self-hatred...which hatred he shares generously with those around him by being scornful and dismissive. Everyone is a fake or a phony. Everyone is worthy of derision. But when simply arising in the morning is a monumental task, I imagine it would be hard to care much for your fellow man.Read more ›
Writer/Director Noah Baumbach's previous films are Kicking & Screaming - Criterion Collection, The Squid and the Whale (Special Edition) and Margot at the Wedding. The tone and harsh reality of those films should give you a good idea of what to expect here. The film has a number of uncomfortable scenes but they aren't played in a broad and obvious way as many other films might have done. Greenberg seems very, very real. The laughs earned by the film come from a very perceptive observation of a character who seems lost wherever he goes.
What Ben Stiller does with this role is a revelation -- he makes an audience sympathetic to a very unsympathetic character. If a character like Greenberg has even the slight possibility of finding love and happiness then there is truly hope for us all.
Ben Stiller hasn't shown acting chops like this in years and it's very refreshing to see him take on an adult role for a change.
'Greenberg' is easily one of the best films of 2010 and will find a place on many Top Ten lists. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 4 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 10 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 10 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 12 months ago by samspennell
This was a great surprise, considering people more as they are than as the polished characters we see more from the"movie industry". Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer