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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Rhys Ifans
Ben Stiller
Brie Larson
Juno Temple
Greta Gerwig.
Directors
Noah Baumbach.
Screenwriters
Noah Baumbach.
Running Time
107 minutes

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Greenberg
Boo-hoolander


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Plot
Following a nervous breakdown, New York carpenter Roger Greenberg (Stiller) arrives in LA to look after his brother’s family home and sickly Alsatian dog. His path crosses with the family’s young P. A. Florence (Gerwig), and an awkward relationship develops.


Review
Greenberg
Noah Baumbach is a New Yorker. In a 15-year film career he’s brought his urban, intellectual humour to a series of comedies that, from 1995’s Kicking & Screaming to 2007’s Margot At The Wedding, have seen post-grad existential indecision turn bitter with middle age. Written with current partner Jennifer Jason Leigh, Greenberg begins in sunlight and youth, camera close on the innocent face of Florence Marr (indie darling Greta Gerwig), driving on Sunset Boulevard, negotiating the traffic, and preparing for the Greenbergs’ vacation in Vietnam; we warm to her awkward beauty, her affectless energy. Yet, as with Meteor or Armageddon, this is a film named after the force of destruction that will be visited upon our sympathetic lead(s): Roger Greenberg.

A spiky ball of New York neuroses, Roger is Woody Allen by way of Saul Bellow’s Herzog, a 40 year-old man trapped in adolescent self-obsession. Like The Graduate, or the second half of Annie Hall, this is an East Coast comedy about West Coast society, but one that’s harder on the New Yorker’s solipsism than the sun-weathered optimism of L. A.. Fifteen years ago Roger was in a band with his West Coast pals, but walked away from a major label deal. As the band’s former singer Ivan, Rhys Ifans is softly perfect, a good soul made weary by Roger’s unthinking actions, living “a life I didn’t plan”. Delusional about the past and his ex-girlfriend (Leigh), Roger hits out at this unplanned world, striking hardest at those he needs most. As he can’t drive, Florence does his shopping and takes the sickly Mahler to the vet. In a regular rom-com they’d fall in love and the dog would get better. This is not that film.

Looking physically drawn, stooped by the weight of his issues, Stiller is remarkable. His cruel treatment of Florence’s friendship, and their awkward sexual encounters, make for difficult viewing, but we, like her, see something worth saving in this broken little man: “You like me so much more than you think you do,” she tells him. As the tale unfolds in its strange, unexpected ways, her words hold equally true for the film.


Verdict
Like a lot of human relationships Greenberg is complicated, infuriating, good-hearted, funny, often painful, and well worth the effort. A sad little movie but also a great one, lit by two astonishing central performances.


Reviewed by Andrew Male

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Greenberg
Empire Star Rating

Well...

......firstly, the marketing peeps have a lot to answer for. I read nost of the reviews on here first so I knew what to expect, but I think it's really unfair on the people who have paid a shit load to see this at the cinema and really aren't getting what they were shown in the ingredients. The exact same thing was done with Cyrus. I did like this though and it did leave me feeling warm, so I would recommend it to someone who can handle a bit of a slow pace and a few uncomfortable moments. The p... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 21:38, 24 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

Greenberg This is a really well written character study about a guy with mental/social issues who house-sits for his brother while they go off on vacation, and how he connects - or fails to connect - with those around him, particularly with the baby/dog sitter assistant Florence (brilliantly played by Greta Gerwig, who's the heart of the film - you can't help but fall in love with her). Ben Stiller as the lead puts in the best performance I've ever seen from him in a straig... More

Posted by KeithM at 00:28, 03 May 2011 | Report This Post


Great movie and remarkable performances from Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 00:33, 18 November 2010 | Report This Post


Average. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:30, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


RE: best supporting actress 2011

I think those in the know how wouldn't have expected a laugh-out-loud romp, but when I saw the trailer they definitely marketed it as a comedy and no doubt attempted to attract the mainstream Stiller fans - who I imagine would have had a hard time watching 'Greenberg.'  ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 13:05, 24 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: best supporting actress 2011

I wouldn't have thought this was being sold as a comedy-i certainly didn't go into it expecting Dodgeball or suchlike(and that was a good thing!). I agree with a lot you say though.A lot of this is quite frankly,uncomfortable to watch,which typifies Greeenberg himself. Although it is uncomforable,it is still a fascinating watch of a man who simply engage what he really wants,and in fact destroys it as a defence mechanism. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 09:05, 24 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: best supporting actress 2011

Like being stuck in an awkward conversation with someone you're desperate to get away from – which is ironic as Greenberg's interactions with people channel this very closely. As a character study of a man so wrapped up in his own self and his ability/inability to interact with other people – it actually works spectacularly well. The relationships he shares and develops with Rhys Ifans and Greta Gerwig for example, work as they symbolically reflect the differences in Greenberg's in... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 01:59, 24 August 2010 | Report This Post


best supporting actress 2011

greta gerwig is an amazing actress not in any way hollywood type sexy funny real lovable watch it for her alone... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 20:42, 28 July 2010 | Report This Post


where's the fifth star?

Greenberg in my humble opinion is a masterclass in character study every single scene holds true in that sense, it's good to see a film about and for truelly insecure adults these days rather than the usual teen dross that barely scratches the surface of the depth of this character, It's a brilliant film admitedly niche but if you like character driven films, or suffer from crushing anxiety and insecurity Greenberg is your'e man. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hi charlie at 00:03, 28 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

Didn't say anything bad about the performances just that Stiller was still kind of doing the same sort of performance he does in straght comedies, thats not the same as sayings he was poor.   Ifans and epsically Getwig are excellent, but as stated neither are given enough to do, and the fact that you had three very creditable leads, and the film still isn't better kind of highlights how much of a mess it is.   Some one else has come up with that explainion for the Dog scenes,... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 14:12, 01 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

L: ElephantBoy Bravo Superdan finally someone speaking sense!  Yes the performances are good, but because so much it is focused on Stiller (who is kind of doing his normal Ben Stiller stick, just more deadpan), the other two leads are not given enough of a chance to really impact on the film.  Edward hit on one of the problems, clitches like trying to make greenberg seem more likeable, just because he takes pittie on a sick dog is really weak.  SPOILOR ALERT! And another ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 01:12, 01 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

Bravo Superdan finally someone speaking sense!  Yes the performances are good, but because so much it is focused on Stiller (who is kind of doing his normal Ben Stiller stick, just more deadpan), the other two leads are not given enough of a chance to really impact on the film.    Edward hit on one of the problems, clitches like trying to make greenberg seem more likeable, just because he takes pittie on a sick dog is really weak.    SPOILOR ALERT! And anoth... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 00:38, 01 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

I actually found this rather difficult to watch, purely because Roger Greenberg is such a repellent little shit of a character. Nearly all the way through it I was just left wondering why Ifans' and Gerwig's characters would bother with him at all, especially during his childish, petulant tantrums. This would be more bearable if it wasn't for the fact that he is on screen for about 90% of the time. About the only positive thing you could say about him is that he seems to like dogs. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by superdan at 14:02, 30 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

L: ElephantBoy Excuse me, but how does he keep it light hearted?  Theres nothing in Greenberg that suggests we should waste our time with him (or that Flourence should which is part of the problem), the film lacks the wit or insight of The Squid and the Whale which is looking more like a classic all the time.  Its not so much that the film is depressing, but than it is boring and cliched. And it didn't focus on any of other characters just Greenberg, as stated Ifans role was underwritten,... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 09:14, 30 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

Hm, I think some of you seem to be missing the point by comparing it with Squid and the Whale. That was a coming of age story in which Jesse Eisenberg's character changes and learns life lessons. Greenberg isn't a kid who learns to grow up, he's a jaded, temperamental, flawed middle aged guy who's so lost inside himself he can't even come to the realisation that he's in love with this girl who is obviously on a completely different wave length to him. The fact he actually cares about taking car... More

Posted by Edward Nygma at 03:28, 30 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

Excuse me, but how does he keep it light hearted?  Theres nothing in Greenberg that suggests we should waste our time with him (or that Flourence should which is part of the problem), the film lacks the wit or insight of The Squid and the Whale which is looking more like a classic all the time.  Its not so much that the film is depressing, but than it is boring and cliched. And it didn't focus on any of other characters just Greenberg, as stated Ifans role was underwrit... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 02:29, 30 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

L: michaelfoster I saw Greenberg tonight and really really wanted to like it. I think Ben Stiller's great and despite a lot of the criticisms up here I think his previous work actually does demonstrate a good range. Having said that I wasn't by any means expecting something fratpack-like, and was more hoping for something along the lines of a Sideways or Little Miss Sunshine - i.e. a flawed character's emotional journey to some sort of realisation with various touching and funny moment... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 00:35, 22 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

I saw Greenberg tonight and really really wanted to like it. I think Ben Stiller's great and despite a lot of the criticisms up here I think his previous work actually does demonstrate a good range. Having said that I wasn't by any means expecting something fratpack-like, and was more hoping for something along the lines of a Sideways or Little Miss Sunshine - i.e. a flawed character's emotional journey to some sort of realisation with various touching and funny moments along the way. As ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by michaelfoster at 23:26, 21 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

L: adambatman82 Personally I'm a big fan of ambiiguous endings, and fail to see how they could have ended this film in any other way, without disrespecting or contradicting what the film was about. not!It's a bit of a cop-out i think. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 20:45, 16 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

Personally I'm a big fan of ambiiguous endings, and fail to see how they could have ended this film in any other way, without disrespecting or contradicting what the film was about. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 12:38, 16 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

L: adambatman82 What was wrong with the ending? I really liked it. Oh, and R W, Greenberg is actually Naumbach's sixth directorial effort, not his third. He had a pretty successful debut with Kicking And Screaming in 1995, which he followed up with two pretty awful efforts in 1997, before relaunching his career with The Squid And The Whale eight years later. Kicking And Screaming is really worth checking out if you get the chance. ust ends abruptly-i hate that,although there ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 08:19, 16 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

What was wrong with the ending? I really liked it. Oh, and R W, Greenberg is actually Naumbach's sixth directorial effort, not his third. He had a pretty successful debut with Kicking And Screaming in 1995, which he followed up with two pretty awful efforts in 1997, before relaunching his career with The Squid And The Whale eight years later. Kicking And Screaming is really worth checking out if you get the chance. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 01:49, 16 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

I'd agree with the bones of your review. But the ending??? Anyway,minor grumbles aside,it was good to see a decent film like this. How could that ever be described as negative? ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 23:05, 15 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

Director/Screenwriter: Noah Baumbach Starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Jason Leigh Synopsis With his brother’s family away on holiday to Vietnam, Roger Greenberg (Stiller) has been assigned to housesit the family's home and soon sparks a relationship with his brother’s assistant Florence (Gerwig). Review At some point in their careers, highly-profiled comedic actors who have spent their time doing pathetic slapstick comedy will eventually collaborate with... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 19:31, 15 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Comedian does depressing = 4 stars!

This film isn't sad or depressing,and that is testament to the quality of it. There are some very personal and indeed sad human issues dealt with,but it is done without reverting to Hollywood bullshit and maintains the dignity of the film and its characters. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 01:13, 14 June 2010 | Report This Post


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