Brilliant but cumbersome
Ben Stiller in 'Greenberg'

Ben Stiller takes a rare detour into a serious role with his performance as Greenberg. Anxiety ridden and unable to connect with people, Greenberg’s midlife crisis plays out through a minimal plot that encompasses an almost romance with geeky twentysomething Florence (Greta Gerwig), maturing friend Ivan (Rhys Ifans) and a malingering dog.

The Squid And The Whale director Noah Baumbach has created something akin to a Wes Anderson mumblecore flick; the film’s crawling pace being an acceptable cost for the rewards of its subtle poignancy and understated humour. Although the script only occasionally allows him to play to his comedic attributes, Stiller possesses the ability to convey the nuances and inner troubles of his often unlovable character. It’s Gerwig who provides the film’s soul with a terrific range of vulnerable expressions and isolated awkwardness.

With an excellent soundtrack from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, a sub-plot involving the fallout from the break-up of Greenberg and Ivan’s band and the casting of mumblecore mainstays Gerwig and Mark Duplass, everything is self-consciously hip. As brilliant as it is on so many levels, its cumbersome nature will render it too uneventful for some even if it does feel like it will grow in time.


Words by Ben Hopkins

Follow Clash: