Ben Stiller gets his sweater on in Greenberg.
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans
Something dawned on me as I watched the opening credits to Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a film about normal human beings.
The credits, which run over “Jet Airliner” by the Steve Miller Band, seem to be deliberately evocative of a movie from the 1970s, when story and plot mattered less than it does now and when movies were unafraid to take their time, even meander.
We’re literally witness one of the lead characters in the film, Florence (played with great vulnerability and unintentional sexuality by Greta Gerwig) run errands. It couldn’t have been a more pedestrian start to a film.
That’s what Baumbach (director of the searing The Squid and the Whale (2005)—which haunted me for days) accomplishes so winningly in Greenberg. Florence and the film’s eponymous protagonist, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) have the feel of reality, which is to say they reek of disappointment. Continue reading