Saturday, 19 June 2010

Stiller Life Watercolour

Greenberg 2010 US
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Screening at cinemas now

There are kinda spoilers as to the end of the film in this short article.

Hmm... what can I say about Greenberg. Not much maybe... it’s not that kind of film. Everything maybe... it’s also that kind of film.

Noah Baumbach’s latest movie has the kind of European pacing that US directors like Robert Altman used to adopt. It’s not constantly trying to edit every shot into something which contributes to getting you to a specific place in a specific story at any given time... something most Americans who get their movies made seem to be obsessed with just lately.

It’s not a film to be taken too lightly but then again it doesn’t jam its message, if it has one, down your throat either. Greenberg is about... if the movie is about anything... a man trying to survive in a world he’s perhaps not best suited for after his release from mental hospital and it’s also about a woman who also seems to have some undefined issues of her own who happens to like Greenberg (as played by Ben Stiller). The narrative, if it can be called that, switches between the two of them and events and incidents happen on screen as characters and situations are gently rubbed together... the kind of film which lets the characters become their own reality in their own time... the kind of film you can pause for reflection as you’re watching the people on screen do the same.

It kinda goes nowhere in the end... not that it doesn’t have probably the best possible ending it could have had. You know exactly what the female protagonist is going to hear on her phone because you’ve already heard Greenberg record the message earlier in the film. That he is also in the room with her as she is about to hear the message and the credits roll might, in any other movie, signify the birth of a beautiful romance. Here though, while the story is trying to perhaps leave you in an ambiguous place... I think we already know enough about Greenberg himself to realise that this relationship is doomed to failure even before it gets to start up properly. At least that was my take on it.

Greenberg is an excellent film and one which deserves to find an enthusiastic audience. Whether that will get one for another couple of decades is anybody’s guess but I would certainly give it my recommendation if you are happy to let movies ramble on to where they want to go at their own pace and time.

A real gem of a movie.

“This is you...”

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