RAW: Greenberg – Film – 3.5K
Reviewed by Lucy Campbell
Greenberg is the story of 40 year old Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) and his return to his native LA after a nervous breakdown and mental hospital stay. Writer/director Noah Baumbuch’s film charts his relationships with old friend and ex bandmate Ivan (Rhys Ifans), ex lover Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and affair with his brother’s personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig).
At it’s core Greenberg defies the conventions of plot, instead focusing on the intricacies of relationships and the title character’s manic depression, which a brave Stiller plays without the comic stylings that we’re so accustomed. It’s Stiller’s film and he plays the role to a tee: the detachment from his surroundings, OCD behaviour, alienation and complete self-obsession. Unfortunately, all these things mean his character is ultimately pretty unlovable, and his fractured character gradually becomes whining and so downright rude, you question why anybody bothers to hang out with him.
But this is a film of a man railing against the world, against LA, against his desires and against himself. Stiller’s self-destructive Greenberg feels real, as does the loose ends of Gerwig’s Florence. Everybody in this film runs in circles, and by the end one feels thoroughly exhausted though not entirely confident anyone will break the cycle. There are the occasional muted chuckles, but it isn’t by any stretch a ‘Ben Stiller Film’ – more of an awkward insight into emotional freefall and neurosis as we slowly watch Greenberg self-destruct and then attempt to pick up the pieces. Though by no means a bad film, Greenberg still leaves you a little empty as the credits roll.
Kryztoff Rating 3.5K