Dear Starbucks, in your attempt to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee you’ve been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn’t covered by ‘the most part’ sucks.
— Roger Greenberg
I have a bone to pick with the Steve and Brian from The Film Cynics. They recently reviewed Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Greenberg. They eviscerated this film saying that it was dull, stupid and a waste of time. I’m paraphrasing here. You could hear their verbal tongue lashing here. Personally, I am not familiar with the works of Baumbach. Going into this movie, I heard nothing but great things about it. I think they don’t like to see flawed characters on screen.
Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He is a forty-year-old man that was recently discharged from the loony bin, because he had a nervous breakdown. He is extremely OCD, doesn’t want to drive and constantly applies chapstick. He house-sits for his brother, Phillip (Chris Messina) and his family take a six week vacation to Vietnam.
Roger becomes acquainted with Phillip’s assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), who comes by the house to check up on the family dog or see if Roger needs anything from the grocery store. Feeling bored in the house, Roger writes letters to companies about mundane everyday annoyance. That doesn’t seem to be enough for him that doesn’t seem to be enough for him. He reconnects with his old friend, Ivan (Rhys Ifans) who used to be in a band with him along with another friend, Eric (Mark Duplass).
Roger tries to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who doesn’t really give him the time of day. Roger’s fragile mental state makes him prone to inappropriate outbursts at the smallest things like listening to a CD, blowing out your birthday candles or expressing any kind of affection to another person. Roger tries to start something up with Florence who doesn’t want to sleep with every guy that she comes in contact with.
From what I heard, Baumbach is known for creating unlikable character. Yes, Roger comes off as a pompous asshole. Nobody should be around this guy. He is a broken man that is filled with regret about the mistakes that he has done with his life. He filled with contempt with throwing his life away, trying to relive his youth that is gone. This guy is lost to himself and lost of the world. Nobody knows how to deal with him.
Personally, the people in this film are not categorized into type “A” or type B” personalities. People like this exist in real life. We don’t necessarily hang out with them, but they are out there. I could identify myself with Roger’s plight, a person plagued with missed opportunities and running out of second chances. Upset with how his life turned and lashing out towards the people that he has come in contact. I get that.
Judgment: It’s not a pleasant watch. It’s brutally honest. It doesn’t have to be in your face. It could deliberate and subtle in its pace and mood.
Posted on July 19, 2010, in 2010, Comedy, Drama, Independent, Romantic and tagged Ben Stiller, Chris Messina, Greenberg, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Duplass, Merritt Wever, Noah Baumbach, Rhys Ifans, Susan Traylor. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.