Greenberg (2010)

Rated R. Our ratings: V-1 ; L-6 ; S/N-7. Running time: 1 hour 48 min.

Anxiety weighs down the human heart,
but a good word cheers it up.
Ecclesiastes 12:25

Florence, Ivan, and Roger meet for dinner.

2010 Focus Features

Ben Stiller’s fortyish Roger Greenberg has returned to L.A, very dispirited. His earlier musical career ended when he blew his band’s chance to cut a record, and while in New York City he had turned to carpentry to win his daily bread. His brother’s family has gone on extended trip, so he is house-sitting. Aside from building a dog house for his family, he occupies himself writing letters to complaint to such agencies and people as Starbucks, American Airlines, the New York Times, and the mayor of New York.

Roger tries to reconnect with his former girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but she has moved on. He has better luck with old friend Ivan (Rhys Ifans), who despite his resentment that Roger ruined their band. Best of all, Roger meets Florence Marr (Greta Gerwig), his brother’s personal assistant. She is much younger than he, and also a somewhat lost soul. Their relationship starts out slowly, but soon heats up, but will he be enough to lift Roger above his anxiety and self-centeredness?

Screenwriter/director Noah Baumbach’s film is interesting, perhaps insightful in terms of a single man in midlife who has not found what he feels called to do, though people of faith will question the casual approach to sex of the to principals.