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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

RE: RE:

L: Ethanial Brilliant. Another cracker from Baumbach, the only problem I had was the ending, like others it's one of those sudden ones, but unlike others, the film didn't lead to it, so it felt slightly like a crutch Baumbach was clinging too as opposed to being a strong hit like The Squid And The Whale. Still, damn funny, fantastic performances from Gerwig, Stiller and Ifans, and Baumbach's best looking film yet too, glad this was the one I got to see on the big screen, finally. Now... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 01:10, 14 June 2010 | Report This Post


Ben Stiller's Best

Really liked Greenberg, Noah Baumbach really is proving himself to be the next Woody Allen at this rate. Ben Stiller was excellent, really impressive performance. Not the friendliest character ever but he is made likeable despite his various flaws. Film itself wasn't depressing, it was full of painful awkwardness and tough emotional moments but it was also very funny, sweet and clever. The Boat That Rocked lol That was complete and utter balls. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward Nygma at 20:09, 13 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Comedian does depressing = 4 stars!

Saw the film this evening and really enjoyed it. I didn't find it depressing at all. Sure it deals with some hard issues, but it was a tale of hope more than anything. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 23:31, 12 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Comedian does depressing = 4 stars!

Anyway, can't wait to see this. Squid And The Whale managed to be both very touching and also very funny, which most of these indie "comedies" usually fail to do. And on a side-note, I can't wait to hear James Murphy's score for the film. The man's a musical genius. ... More

Posted by Nimrods Son at 19:41, 12 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Comedian does depressing = 4 stars!

L: The Voice of Fate This is a typical Empire review. This film looks so bleak, horrible and depressing that I can't imagine anyone wanting to spend their hard earned money and time just to let it get them down. Naturally, this is an automatic 4 stars for Empire. Boat that Rocked - funny, smart, heart warming - can't be any good can it... ust because something is depressing or sad doesn't mean it doesn't have any artistic worth or insight. Hell most drama is full of tragedy. Last tim... More

Posted by Nimrods Son at 19:37, 12 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE:

Brilliant. Another cracker from Baumbach, the only problem I had was the ending, like others it's one of those sudden ones, but unlike others, the film didn't lead to it, so it felt slightly like a crutch Baumbach was clinging too as opposed to being a strong hit like The Squid And The Whale. Still, damn funny, fantastic performances from Gerwig, Stiller and Ifans, and Baumbach's best looking film yet too, glad this was the one I got to see on the big screen, finally. Now, however, is the lon... More

Posted by Ethanial at 18:25, 11 June 2010 | Report This Post


Let's be clear, I wouldn't go to the cinema to watch this either, but I'll no doubt give it a watch at some point as although these type of genre films are fairly depressing (ala Synecdoche Newy York) , they are also very enlightening and uplifting... if they're done well, that is. It's unfair to automatically assume that it's the type of boring dross that's often on Channel 5. So I'll give it the benefit of the doubt as it sounds like it could be quite interesting, and Ben Stiller is class..... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jefmac69 at 21:50, 10 June 2010 | Report This Post


Even though this film sounds interesting, hear here ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by harlequin21 at 03:45, 09 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Greenberg

I thoroughly enjoyed this, I'd rate it higher than Margot At The Wedding, maybe even putting it on a par with The Squid And The Whale. I certainly wouldn't call it 'depressing', without giving too much away the storyline skips round the edge of matters like nervous breakdowns and abortion, but while Greenberg obviously isn't playing with the full deck when it comes to his relationships with other people, Baumbach never steers the film into Bergman/'serious' Woody Allen territory, never allow... More

Posted by Indio at 22:12, 08 June 2010 | Report This Post


Comedian does depressing = 4 stars!

This is a typical Empire review. This film looks so bleak, horrible and depressing that I can't imagine anyone wanting to spend their hard earned money and time just to let it get them down. Naturally, this is an automatic 4 stars for Empire. Boat that Rocked - funny, smart, heart warming - can't be any good can it... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 07:13, 08 June 2010 | Report This Post


Comedian does depressing = 4 stars!

This is a typical Empire review. This film looks so bleak, horrible and depressing that I can't imagine anyone wanting to spend their hard earned money and time just to let it get them down. Naturally, this is an automatic 4 stars for Empire. Boat that Rocked - funny, smart, heart warming - can't be any good can it... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 07:13, 08 June 2010 | Report This Post


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