Baumbach has matured. He mostly succeeds in avoiding the insufferable cheesiness that dominated The Life Aquatic. In fact, some scenes are very well written, and Greenberg is a stone's throw from being a good comedic character study. Its main failure is the catastrophic miscasting of broad comedian Stiller opposite mumblecore actress Gerwig. Just as Roger Greenberg is a fish-out-of-water New Yorker in Hollywood, Stiller is a total stranger to low-key, nuanced dramedy, and he simply botches it.
Greenberg is quite an achievement. The acting is commendable and the storytelling surefooted but it is the well-balanced blend of humor, gloominess, wit, nuance, and introspectiveness that works so well in this comedy-drama.
On par with Baumbach's Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. All these films contain deeply flawed characters and that might be a problem to some viewers. Stiller does a great job with the titular Greeberg and it's refreshing to see him doing some serious acting for a change.
With another director this could very easily have become just another oh-so-indie quirkfest, but Baumbach is a different breed; the film is a strong, honest (and funny) character study. Great, great performances from Ifans, Stiller and Gerwig. Also, Greenberg's reaction to Florence's pointless story was major lol - cruel, but very funny. Comparing this film to dreck like Garden State and Me and you and everyone we know is pretty far off the mark imo.
Failed musicians, Nite Jewel cameos, Gainsbourg on the soundtrack, surprisingly moody and poetic but also sarcastic and clever... this movie was definitely made for me right now in my life. Baumbach's best, and the first masterpiece of the decade.
Greenberg is one of those movies where everything is plausible, realistic and completely uninteresting. There seems to be a divide in indie movies about whether to put the priority on making things reflect reality versus telling a good story. Some folks like Wes Anderson can walk the fence pretty well by balancing things with extraordinary settings or circumstances. Greenberg's characters, story and setting are so common and plausible that there is nothing to learn and no redeeming perspective.
Baumbach did a great job illustrating how much of an insufferable/awkward asshole Roger Greenberg is, but the movie really just isn't that interesting. I get that he's an asshole, Rhys Ifans is a sap (he was great, by the way), Greta Gerwig apparently just doesn't give a fuck about anything since she desires Greenberg for some unknown fucking reason, and that Mark Duplass owns. I understand all of this, but it's just not that good. Big credit for the hilariously awkward oral scene though.
At times Stiller's portrayal of the confused and directionless Greenberg left me cold. I could identify but not buy into or sympathise with his self-destructive eccentricities. Eventually, though, the film's characters did grow on me. Well, with Greta Gerwig it was not that difficult. I left fairly satisfied with the film's conclusions, but perhaps not with its journey there. The highlight was some of the relationships and dialogues, which were genuinely touching and real. More please, Baumbach.
Another movie about basically nothing. The movie just follows Ben Stiller's character Roger Greenberg as he house sits for his brother while he starts up a relationship with his brothers personal assistant. The movie really drags in a lot of places, thank goodness for Greta Gerwig. This film would have been unbearable if it wasn't for her excellent acting and pretty face lighting up the screen. Focus Features has been really touch and go with their movies lately. Pretty disappointing.
Another interesting study of self-absorption, courtesy of Baumbach. Stiller gives a terrific performance as the deliberately unsympathetic lead, but Gerwig outshines him in support, giving a warm, lovable, real performance which ultimately forms the heart of the film. Overall impact of the film is muffled because Stiller's character is such a self indulgent bastard at times, but witty writing, and genuinely intelligent insights into both main characters, ultimately makes it a winner.
One of those movies I feel like I should have really liked, but it wasn't for me. That's Baumbach for me though. He writes/directs these indie dramadies which is my favorite genre of film, and I never like the movies as much as I think I will. In fact, the only time I really like him is when he co-writes with Wes Anderson. I do give him props for giving Ben Stiller a vehicle to show he has some acting chops (I always feel like he gets a raw deal from his critics).
Though this film did have good acting and a good "no bullshit" story, I really cant grade it very well. The sad thing is that the reasons I hated the movie can all be defended to say that thats why its a good movie. The dialogue was like watching a train wreck, the acting was so unbearably awkward I almost walked out of the theater about 3 times, and Greenberg's character was such a dick I wanted to throw my popcorn at the screen. In all this movie was difficult to watch.
Another totem to pampered pedants, Noah Baumbach's Greenberg humourlessly explores the self-centred machinations of the director's own mind. Shunning the eccentric wit of Solondz and Anderson, Baumbach continues to dish up the most cardboard, reductive representations of flawed individuals. He fashions not palpable people whose issues inspire empathy and passion but one-note nobodies whose primary function is to flatter and expand upon their directors ego. Stiller and Gerwig can't save it.
Greenberg is the picture-perfect definition of an independent comedy film. If you don%u2019t tend to like them, then stay far away from it, because you won%u2019t enjoy yourself. If you do happen to find them funny, then by all means, watch Greenberg, because you will laugh at all of the awkward situations that characters find themselves in, as well as the awkward dialogue exchanges between these characters. Some of it is heartbreaking, but almost all of the film is humorous.
Stiller gives his best performance to date as the hapless neurotic Greenberg, managing to be both funny and moving without ever being likable. This sharp, absorbing screenplay is filmed with taste and intelligence. Greta Gerwig is very good too.
Putting them together was a bold casting move, but as good as they both are in their roles--she (Gerwig) in the flustered, galumphing mode of early Teri Garr, he (Stiller) in the clenched and mumbling one of late Woody Allen--they never quite seem to be sharing the same movie.
Greenberg is surprisingly affecting and honest, and although I must say it was a very good film, I don't think there was enough going on here for me to carry the film with me after the runtime ends, but maybe im at an age where I can't relate? There are some good scenes though (the party scene), Stiller is great as the titular Greenberg (managing to be both unlikable and sympathetic) and also: HOLY SHIT, I owned that same dinosaur ruler when I was a kid! Score is not a grade.
Roger is a deeply hurt individual and we get a real insight in to this fascinating character. Greta Gerwig gives an amazing performance and, if at times Stiller's genuine flaws can get a little tiring, Gerwig's sheer charm and tenderly handled performance keep your attention throughout. It's about as earnestly hopeful as you can expect a rueful film about disappointment to be as when you reach the end you feel like these characters still have a shot at happiness and to me that meant a lot.