Saturday, April 3, 2010 8:55 PM By Simon

Okay, I reviewed Margot at the Wedding once, but I never posted it, but if I had, you all would've known of my weariness of Noah Baumbach. He makes truly awful characters, being horrible to eachother and not doing anything. Here is no exception.

For Ben Stiller, I imagine this is his Punch-Drunk Love, an exaggeration of his usual comic persona (in this case, a snotty way about him, he thinks he's smarter than everyone else in the room, etc) into dramatic structure. He plays Roger Greenberg, a narcissistic, misanthropic carpenter. While housesitting for his affluent brother, he starts a kind-of relationship with his assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig).

Greenberg is, for lack of a better word, an asshole. He manages to turn every conversation towards himself, he treats people like their only purpose in life is to please him, even if he says otherwise. He tells people straight out what their problems are, is pretentious. He's a dick. But Stiller sells him, makes you hate him, but despise him, if that makes any sense.

Florence is a pushover, something acknowledged in the film, but not to it's extent. In fact, she might be the only person who would put up with Roger, because her self-esteem's so low she doesn't notice what a tool he is. He's emotionally abusive, and she takes it as her fault most of the time. She is an incredibly sad character, I think. The only reason I didn't find her a pain in the ass was because Gerwig is awesome.

Rhys Ifans is great as Ivan, Greenberg's former bandmate and best friend, one half of two guys who have nothing left to say to each other, but slide by on nostalgia for the sake of it.

The film itself is funny, but humorless (if that makes any sense). So.


Alex said...

I definitely feel that Baumbach weariness. I liked this one though, probably the best of all his films (excluding Life Aquatic, which is awesome, but not solely his film obviously). Greta Gerwig was so, so good, she made the movie for me. I love Rhys Ifans and he was great in this, but I wanted him to show up more often!

April 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM