Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Greenberg (2010) - Review

It's really hard for me to imagine writing a script that doesn't have a plot, but apparently it's Noah Baumbach's specialty. This is pretty similar to his (probably) most popular film, The Squid and the Whale in the sense that it doesn't really have a story to speak of. Things happen, but the movie has no real events; both are really just character pieces dealing with stressful things. In The Squid and the Whale, it's a family dealing with a divorce. In Greenberg it's a mentally unstable guy by the name of Roger, played by Ben Stiller, dealing with his neuroses. Greenberg is definitely more natural, and despite its similar lack of plot, it feels much more like a real movie than The Squid and the Whale.

Ben Stiller really makes the movie; he gives such a great, sympathetic performance. You really feel for the guy even though he's a jerk 90% of the time. His acting is jarring and startlingly real, especially in his tirades towards the end of the movie. Most of the intrigue in the movie comes from deconstructing this guy and seeing how he deals with his problems, or rather, doesn't. It's really a testament to how great of an actor Ben Stiller is. He rarely delves into drama, but like Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, he's great at it when he does.

The rest of the cast is good too, especially Rhys Ifans as Roger's best friend. Even Greta Gerwig (the awful titular Hannah from Hannah Takes the Stairs) does a decent job. The soundtrack is pretty stellar as well, and there's one song that pops up a few times in the soundtrack that really sets an interesting mood with its chromatic descent. And that's sort of what the movie feels like; you're descending into Roger's mind and really start to agree with him and see his side of things. You think maybe he's not so messed up after all; maybe everyone else is messed up instead. Or maybe I'm just messed up.

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