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Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Greenberg", the comedy inside a dramatic life


Noah Baumbach is a fiercely brave director. He risks everything in his films. rythm, tone, empathy with the characters, direction of the plots... sometimes to the point of missing cohesion or some coherency, because he has a greater purpose: portraying the most realistic study of how complicated, self-conscious and disappointed we are. And it that sense, Greenberg, the character, might be his best creation. You won't like him. As matter of fact, you'll probably hate his behaviour. But basically you will feel uncomfortable. And that's because there's a little bit of Greenberg in all of us.

And if we praise Baumbach's, we have to applause Stiller's performance, so real that makes the guy so human despite all his dysfunctions and neurosis, so heartfelt and desperate that when he contently explodes, you can just feel sorry for him, despite his selfishness. The same applies to Greta Gerwig's performance as Florence, perfect in her role as a young woman who is as caring and gentle as seriously damaged.

Sadly though, there are some questions to be raised. Do we need a mental illness/disorder? Seems a nice way to justify some behaviours. But more importantly, being the movie so painstakingly honest in what refers to the characters, the love story is not very credible in my opinion. And the friendship relation is even harder to believe. The ellipsis in what refers to the past and connections between the pals, and the former band (there was no need to make the past so exciting or promising by the way, why a music band?) is so brutal that is very hard to understand either the situations of irrepressible anger or the explosion of sincerity/revelation towards the end.

Overall, "Greenberg" has flaws, and it won't be a pleasant choice for many viewers. But the weigh of the balance clearly leans towards its achievements. A risky film that dissects a very complex character, surrounded by complex and real people, through a dark-comedy that reveals how difficult life can be.

SCORE: 6,5/10  

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