Greenberg (film)

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Greenberg
Greenberg poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNoah Baumbach
Produced by
Screenplay byNoah Baumbach
Story by
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Noah Baumbach
Starring
Music byJames Murphy
CinematographyHarris Savides
Edited byTim Streeto
Production
company
Scott Rudin Productions
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date
  • February 14, 2010 (2010-02-14) (Berlinale)
  • March 19, 2010 (2010-03-19) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$7.4 million[2]

Greenberg is a 2010 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The film stars Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Brie Larson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Greenberg was produced by Scott Rudin Productions and distributed by Focus Features. The film's soundtrack features the first film score by James Murphy.

Although the film received positive reviews, it was a box office bomb, grossing $7 million against a $25 million budget.

Plot[edit]

Florence Marr (Greta Gerwig) is a personal assistant to the Greenberg family in Hollywood Hills. Before the family leaves on a trip to Vietnam, Phillip Greenberg (Chris Messina) explains that his brother, Roger (Ben Stiller), will be staying at the house, ostensibly to build a doghouse for the family dog, Mahler. Phillip’s wife, Carol (Susan Traylor), confides that Roger has just been released from a hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown.

Arriving from New York City, Roger has an awkward encounter with Florence, and spends his time building the doghouse, watching neighbors swim in the Greenbergs’ pool, and writing various letters of complaint. His friend Ivan Schrank (Rhys Ifans) invites him to a party at the home of their former bandmate Eric Beller (Mark Duplass), where Roger is uncomfortable and Eric is openly hostile toward him. Roger runs into Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an ex-girlfriend, and explains he is in Los Angeles to simply do nothing for a while.

Roger calls Florence to meet for a drink. He does not drive so she picks him up, stopping at her apartment for her purse. They begin to have sex, but Florence stops him, having just come out of a long relationship and not wanting to have meaningless sex. Roger suggests they keep things platonic and Florence agrees, but they remain drawn to each other.

Over dinner, Eric vents his anger that Roger declined a major record deal for their band fifteen years ago. Eric marvels that Ivan, devastated by losing the contract, still speaks to Roger.

Noticing Mahler is lethargic, Roger calls Florence to take them to a vet, where they learn the dog has an auto-immune disease. Their relationship soon escalates, with Florence falling for Roger despite his outbursts and awkward behavior.

Roger meets Beth for drinks and recalls minute details from their time together, which she barely remembers; she leaves abruptly when Roger tries to rekindle their relationship.

After Florence and Roger finally have sex, he yells at her for pursuing him when he does not want to become involved with her. The next day, a remorseful Roger calls Florence, who confesses that she is due to have an abortion the following day. Roger offers to take her; since he does not drive, Ivan drives Roger and Florence to the clinic, where she undergoes general anaesthesia and stays overnight.

Back at the house, Roger's college-age niece, Sara (Brie Larson) has turned up. Leaving for Australia in the morning with her friend, Muriel (Juno Temple), they throw a house party with dozens of their friends, with whom Roger does drugs. Ivan arrives and gets into an argument with Roger, finally voicing his feelings over their lost record deal. Roger confesses he had no idea his personal concerns would end the band, for which he feels immense guilt. They bemoan that they have ended up in lives they did not plan to have, though Ivan has made peace with his. Having learned from Florence that Roger had been hospitalized, and having been through a similar experience himself, Ivan laments that they could have helped each other. He leaves, declaring that they never truly talk, and saddened Roger never made an effort to know Ivan’s son. Dejected and inebriated, Roger leaves a long voicemail for Florence, confessing that he really likes her.

The next day, Roger jumps at Sara’s invitation to accompany her to Australia. He convinces the neighbors to take care of Mahler, but on the way to the airport, changes his mind. Instead, he goes to meet Florence at the clinic, and they return to her apartment. The film closes as she listens to Roger's voicemail.

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

"Sounds nothing like LCD, really, which cracks us [Baumbach and him] both up."—James Murphy[3]

The soundtrack is arranged by DFA Records co-founder James Murphy. It is Murphy's debut film score, and it includes original compositions credited to Murphy, his band LCD Soundsystem as well as songs by other artists.[4] The movie itself contained 25 unique songs, leaving 8 out of the soundtrack.[5][6]

Track listing
  1. Steve Miller Band: "Jet Airliner"
  2. James Murphy: "People"
  3. Nite Jewel: "Suburbia"
  4. James Murphy: "Sleepy Baby"
  5. James Murphy: "Thumbs"
  6. Albert Hammond: "It Never Rains in Southern California"
  7. James Murphy: "Plenty of Time"
  8. James Murphy: "Photographs"
  9. James Murphy: "Gente"
  10. Galaxie 500: "Strange"
  11. LCD Soundsystem: "Oh You (Christmas Blues)"
  12. James Murphy: "Birthday Song"
  13. James Murphy: "Dear You"
  14. The Sonics: "Shot Down"
  15. Duran Duran: "The Chauffeur"
  16. James Murphy: "If You Need a Friend"
  17. James Murphy : "Please Don't Follow Me"
  18. James Murphy: "Photographs (Piano)"

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 166 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Greenberg's title character is harder to like than most, but Ben Stiller's nuanced performance and a darkly funny script help take the misanthropic edge off."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[8]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 and 1/2 stars out of four. Ebert praised Stiller's performance and wrote: "I never knew who Ben Stiller was born to play, but now I do."[9] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine, gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and wrote, "Writer-director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) walks the fragile line between humor and heartbreak...Even when you laugh, like in the climactic party scene, it hurts."[10] Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called the film "a quietly funny portrait of grown-ups growing up" and gave it 3 out of 4 stars. Hornaday praised the lead performances, noting "Stiller inhabits his character's neuroses so thoroughly that it's easy to forget what a challenge it is to make such misanthropy the least bit compelling" and said Gerwig "proves her bona fides here as a fine, engaging young actress."[11]

Not all reviews were positive. Kurt Loder of MTV News wrote, "The movie is set up as a quirky romance between two lost souls, but in the end it seems more like a stalemate than a love match."[12] David Edelstein of New York magazine lamented: "Greenberg would be a heckuva movie if we could just get Greenberg out of there."[13] Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail was perhaps the most harsh critic of the film: "This is the kind of low-budget movie that attracts respectful reviews, but tiny audiences. That's because there's virtually no story or character development and the main character's an idiot."[14]

Accolades[edit]

Berlin International Film Festival
  • Golden Bear Award for Best Film (nominated)
Gotham Awards
Independent Spirit Awards
  • Best Feature (nominated)
  • Best Male Lead – Ben Stiller (nominated)
  • Best Female Lead – Greta Gerwig (nominated)
  • Best Cinematography – Harris Savides (nominated)
National Board of Review Awards
  • Top Ten Independent Films

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Movies You Might Have Missed: Noah Baumbach's Greenberg". The Independent. October 4, 2017. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  2. ^ "Greenberg (2010)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  3. ^ Adams, Sean (November 24, 2009). "LCD Soundsystem: 10 Questions for 2010". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  4. ^ Dombal, Ryan (February 5, 2010). "James Murphy's Greenberg Soundtrack Details". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 5, 2010.
  5. ^ "Greenberg [2015] Soundtrack @ what-song". what-song.com. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  6. ^ Extrageographic (June 12, 2010). "Greenberg – all of the music in the film". extrageographic.org. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  7. ^ "Greenberg (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  8. ^ "Greenberg Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 24, 2010). "Reviews. Greenberg". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Travers, Peter (March 19, 2010). "Greenberg". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Ann Hornaday (March 26, 2010). "Critic Review for Greenberg on washingtonpost.com". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010.
  12. ^ Loder, Kurt (March 26, 2010). "'Greenberg': L.A. Story, By Kurt Loder". MTV.com. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  13. ^ Edelstein, David (March 29, 2010). "Review. Greenberg". New York. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  14. ^ Tookey, Chris (August 10, 2010). "Greenberg: Everything but the girl is dreary | Mail Online". dailymail.co.uk. Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2013.

External links[edit]