Friday, February 11, 2011

Hey, I Know This Guy! Greenberg (2010)

It's unusual for me to do this, but I watched Greenberg cold. I had never seen a previous Noah Baumbach film, I didn't really have a clue as to what Greenberg was about, I had never seen a trailer or read a review. It was refreshing to come to a film so fresh. And yet, it was soooo familiar.

I would swear that Ben Stiller followed around a couple of my friends. I am a minster to the mentally ill, among others, and Stiller's character here is just like a couple people I know. So self absorbed that every difficulty is someone else's fault and every conversation is centered around him. When someone acts in a normal manner, he gets angry and would possibly walk out without warning. Greenberg (and my friends) are those who, even if not specifically diagnosed with a mental illness is so socially crippled that they don't really have friends, simply victims. Or those who try, ever so slowly, to make them into fuller human beings.

I just want to say that Greenberg is realistic, for the most part. I recognize the character of Florence and although her depth of passivity is rare, it isn't unknown. And the thought of throwing these two characters together is fascinating and it was interesting to watch.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the excellent characterizations of Stiller and Gretta Gerwig, watching Greenberg was like watching a social train wreck. It is amazing, and it keeps your attention, but in the end you feel a little dirty and you wish it could have had a different ending. Tragedy is terrible, even when it is deadly quiet.

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