Greenberg – Noah Baumbach
Being a massive fan of Noah Baumbach’s work, well from the 2005 onwards, the first i saw was the eloquently unusual but somewhat brilliant film The Squid and The Whale and then moving onto a film that i enjoyed on a different level Margot at the Wedding and his latest directorial piece Greenberg starring Ben Stiller. He was also a writer on two massive films that i adore, both collaborating with the magnificent director Wes Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr. Fox. And finally seeing another great film from this up and coming director is always a pleasure and hearing that the soundtrack will be constructed by one of my favourite musician’s James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem, it almost seemed too good to be true. With Noah’s new film, i knew Ben Stiller was to star and i was a little confused how this would happen, would Stiller have to step back from his normal shtick of being a little strange and a little funny mixed together like his films Meet the Parents and Night at the Museum, which I’m not a massive fan of especially the Meet the Parents film, i think they are a pile of steaming shit. But i like Stiller as a comedian and an actor, and i think with the right direction he can be awesome, for example, The Cable Guy, There’s Something About Mary, Mystery Men, The Royal Tenenbaums, Zoolander, Dodgeball, and Tropic Thunder. And if you look at all those films, there are some spectacular performances from the guy, and i thought maybe here he would really shine and i was right, Baumbach gets a perfect performance out of Stiller.
The film follows Stiller playing Roger Greenberg, who is suffering from a nervous breakdown and is asked by his brother to look after his house. He meets the assistant to his brother’s family Florence and begins a strange unusual relationship with her where they both push and pull each other away but at the same time both wanting to further the relationship. It’s something really hard to put a name on and describe. As well as meeting the assistant, he also visits an old friend who lives in the area, Ivan, played by Rhys Ifans, and they too have a bitter relationship after Roger fucked up a great band opportunity for both Ivan and Roger. The film does revolve around different relationships and strains which affect the normal human being. In these relationships funny and sad events occur and the simple writing of Baumbach embraces these tiny moments and that’s where the heart and soul of the movie appears from.
It’s a wonderfully made film with some really tough emotional scenes which Stiller shows he isn’t a one trick pony and that he really can act. It’s defiantly a great film in the collection that Baumbach has started and i hope his next film will follow this trend.