Wednesday, July 7, 2010
GREENBERG (2010) by jeff
Cast: Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans, Gerta Gerwig, Mark Duplass, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Max Hoffman, Jake Paltrow, Juno Temple, Chris Messina, Dave Franco
Written & Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Story By: Noah Baumbach & Jennifer Jason Leigh
Cinematography By: Harris Savides
Editor: Tim StReeto
This film is another victim of me getting my hope up before watching it. Then being disappointed with the results when I first saw the preview I figured I could wait for video but with critics raving about the film it moved up to must see status. But by the end of watching it I felt defeated.
I think this would have made a very interesting book more then film. Where as the film has great material to work with it just didn’t work out for me. The character Ben Stiller plays seems to be a catalyst or maybe a surrogate for the neurotic feelings the writer director Noah Baumbach feels in life but buries in normal life, but I’m no psychiatrist. I only say this because throughout the film he refuses to make Greenberg seem wrong or a complete villian he treats him with kid gloves almost.
On the plus side the film seemed to be true to life as much as life has highs and lows and at times can be slow. That is how the film moved it was dull at times but then would have a really good poignant scene then there would be a scene that had no point.
I understand the main character played by Ben Stiller is supposed to be some type of anti-hero who refuses to take responsibility but the film gives you clues as to why, but he is such a jerk it’s really hard to like him nonetheless root for him in any way. He is a funny character but easily hateful. It’s hard to root for a selfish character who believes he is really looking out for everyone. He is witty though
The writing in the film is witty, but I feel if it was a book it would have better explored and explained the situations and characters.
The film at times tries to be subtle bit other times seems to beat you over the head. The real saving grace of the film are the characters played by Rhys Ifans as Ben Stiller’s sympathetic friend who he was in a band with years ago who almost had a record deal but blew it thanks to Greenberg. He is a sad sack but gives his character so much depth that you feel for him and wish he could get happier. Then there is Gerta Gerwig’s character who you wish could be in another film she is interesting as a sad sack of a character who has no self esteem or confidence as she is willing to be any man who shows interest plaything a sex toy.
Of course that leads the main characters onto some sort of messed up romance that seems to keep starting and stopping as he seems attracted to her then disgusted by her or the fact that she would be interested in him as he starts a hopeless attempt to try and get his ex back but runs to Gerta’s character as he literally need her since the film is set in California and he doesn’t drive.
The film feels like a L.A. movie even though the writer director Noah Boambach is based in New York the film seems to portray and show a breezy almost hippieish existence while having the only real neurotic character be the New York based Greenberg it would have also been interesting if the film showed the way Greenburg had to get used to life on the different coast.
I will Give Ben Stiller credit he shows range in a dramatic role who is very negative but shows emotional depth along the way.
The Two stars of the movie are actually replacements the original stars were supposed to be Mark Ruffalo who dropped out due to a family tragedy and then Amy Adams dropped out though as good as Ms. Gerwig is in the role I would have preferred to se Amy Adams in this role if only so the film LEAP Year would not have been made.
The film is also disappointing as I have been a fan of Mr. Baumbach since his debut with the film KICKING & SCREAMING. This film and the one previous MARGOT AT THE WEDDING have been disappointing as his films are still vastly different and original then most films out there and feel like they are straight out of the 70’s it also seems like he is very conscious of that fact and the films come off as quasi personal but also like he is trying to hard to showcase his talents but trying to be subtle. Instead he should just make the film and worry about stylistic touches later and my piece of advice event though they show they can put there money where there mouth is, Maybe stop casting Big box office comedians as the stars of your films. But all in all I do like your style.
The story of the film is, While his brother is away on vacation with his family Greenberg comes out from New York to house sit and dog sit after being released from a mental hospital due to a nervous breakdown. He begins a friendship/romance with his brother’s persona; assistant while trying to build a doghouse and catching up with his old friends and there families. He spends much of the time also writing angry letters of complaints to companies.