Sunday, 13 June 2010
To see Noah Baumbach's thoughtful and incisive Greenberg: the story of faded rock singer turned carpenter, Roger Greenberg, who is recuperating in his brother's house after a spell in a mental hospital following a nervous breakdown, where he starts an awkward affair with the family's young personal assistant, Florence (played with brilliance by Greta Gerwig). Ben Stiller plays Greenberg with huge understanding, giving his combination of grouchy complaints, terrible personal behaviour and self-obsession such depth that one actually cares about an otherwise horrible person. Gone is the goofiness of Meet the Fockers: who knew that behind the goofball comedy there was an actor capable of carrying a multi-layered film like this through virtually every scene? There is great support from Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a fellow band member and former lover respectively. But this is a breakout film for the two principals - Stiller from his stereotype, and Gerwig showing she is destined for greatness. This is not easy viewing - it can be ponderous and episodic - but it is nevertheless a great movie.