Sunday, May 16, 2010

Greenberg by Noah Baumbach

    You like me more than you think you do.
    Hurt people, hurt people.

These are the two enduring quotes from Wes Anderson pal, Noah Baumbach's fourth film Greenberg. The film is a departure, of sorts from his previous two films, The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding in that the film isn't about children. On the surface. Roger Greenberg, played masterfully by Ben Stiller, is a 41 year man child. And his part-time lover, Florence, a 25 year old college grad who has now spent as much of her life since college as she spent in college, seems very well put together on the surface, but, she has some growing up to do herself.

While the film is named after Roger, one could argue that Florence is the centerpiece of the film. In Florence the audience is able to see themselves; and, in Roger we're allowed to see what Florence is in danger of becoming if she isn't able to save herself--and possibly Roger--from the ruts of their lives. Roger is a bitter man who always has a deep seeded guilt that he was the one who killed his band's chances of making it 15 years before.

Roger takes this anguish out on everyone he loves. Florence. Ivan. His brother. He wasn't willing to show up for his mother's funeral out of fear that he would have to face his former friends and bandmates. He also has a tendency of exploding on people as he gets truly close to him.

Greenberg is a film that is an incredibly awkward film. It has some truly hysterical moments and some touching and poignant scenes. Ultimately, I believe that the film has a message that says that we all have to grow up at some point. It won't be fun. But, the longer that a person puts off this inevitable moment the more difficult it becomes to do it without suffering major consequences. I believe that the film is loved by the people that admit to liking it; but I believe that when the film says "you like me more than you know," is a little wink to those in the audience that didn't enjoy the movie. Because, Noah Baumbach knows, as well as I do, that the movie caught the hearts and minds of the audience, whether they "liked" it or not.


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