Director: Noah Baumbach
Screenplay: Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Producer: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Rudin, Lila Yacoub
Duration: 107 Minutes
Ben Stiller takes a break from fighting historical figures and embarrassing himself in front of the in laws to take on a more unconventional role, meet Roger Greenberg. He has just recently suffered from a nervous breakdown and is now intent on “just doing nothing for a while” which he tells anybody who will listen. He’s been asked to housesit for his brother in L.A while he’s away, and it’s while he’s here he tries form an awkward relationship with his brother’s assistant Florence (Gerwig).
The film is definitely not traditional Stiller fare; this isn’t supposed to be a laugh-fest, most of the laughs come from Greenberg’s awkward interactions and the character’s general abrasiveness. A large part of the story is the budding relationship between Greenberg and Florence who both come off as being very breezy with the hint of awkwardness, unlike regular love stories though we’re not given some big happy ending to this side of the plot, but nevertheless by the end of the film the audience can be hopeful that Greenberg will turn life around somewhat.
This has to be Stiller’s best performance for a very long time, everything is so subtle, nothing ever feels like it’s being forced, which makes Greenberg such a believable and tragic character. The film seems to have the forgotten youth of Generation X at heart with the sub plot of Greenberg’s former band who were a contract signing away from the big time before he backed out on the deal, leaving them with a world that didn’t want them. Now he has to put up with a stilted relationship with his former band mate Ivan (Ifans). Ifans puts in a great nuanced performance as he tries to hide his resentment of Roger for ruining his musical career, and leaving all of them with very little to hope for. Ivan though has learned to accept a normal life, which eventually Greenberg will have to embrace.
This could be Director Noah Baumbach’s breakthrough film, he has a unique writing style which could help him in attracting bigger films, expect to see more from him in the future.
It didn’t set the world on fire at the box office but it’s to be released on DVD and Blu Ray soon, I would highly recommend giving it a viewing.
Review by Connor Noden