Greenberg is a story of after the settled aftermath of someone’s failed dreams. What if you were the talented member of a band and you were offered a contract to a record label, for some reason your anxiety made you walk out on it. You make a new life for yourself on the other side of the country. You fall apart, commit yourself and then try to start over. Only the world has moved on without you. Well, that is the story of Greenberg. A simple tale with quirky complex characters that don’t take life too seriously, but they still stress over its responsibilities. Sounds serious, actually it’s pretty funny.
Ben Stiller wears many hats, in Greenberg he plays Roger Greenberg, an early 40s basket case that meticulously hand writes letters and mails them to companies to express his frustration. His social anxiety makes his assimilation into society a difficult if not impossible dream. Stiller over the years has tackled many forms of character but never has he donned the guise of a character so suited for him. No other actor alive could play this role.
Florence, played by the darling Greta Gerwig, is the errand girl of Roger Greenberg‘s brother. She is stuck in a transitionary stage in her life that doesn’t seem to end. After finishing with college she can’t seem to find a place for herself or who she is suppose to be.
When Florence and Roger meet they seem like the most unlikely of people to begin a relationship together, and well that never really changes during the course of the film. These two oddly shaped pieces seem to fit together.
Rhys Ifans plays Roger’s old band mate and recent best friend Ivan Schrank. Ivan’s character lends subtle humor to the story, in that he seems to be very meek and unanimated but under the visible plot his life is falling apart and beginning again. While he is in his own crossroads he is force to play sidekick to Roger’s own deflated life.
Greenberg is not a film for everyone, but is a great look into the lives of those who were once going to be something great and it never happened. A scene at the end of the film is a good contrast, in that Roger is forced to witness and party with the modern day equivalent of the cool crowd while he is stuck in his old shell.
Rated R for some strong sexuality, drug use, and language.