A film I immediately felt I needed to see again, I found this
fascinating and sometimes maddening.
Ben Stiller plays a truly unlikable 'hero', a man so angry that he
can't maintain any sort of real friendship, much less romantic
What's admirable about the film, is that all the acting is so rich and
subtle, as is the writing, that no one ends up a caricature.
There's also an admirable unwillingness to give into convention, to
provide easy answers or heartwarming redemption. This is about a man
maybe taking the first step from A to B and we're not sure in the end
he'll even make it that far.
On the downside, there is a certain repetitiveness to it. We 'get'
Greenberg and his anger, and sometimes the going in circles feels like
just filling time instead of proving a point about how stuck the
character is emotionally.
Also, there's mention of Greenberg's vulnerability, but if that had
been allowed to be just a bit more evident it might have better
balanced his off-putting downside. As is, on first viewing, the film
felt a bit removed and intellectual.
But I could easily imagine that impression changing on revisiting, now
that I'm prepared for it's dark and difficult tone.
In any case, I found this a very good, if challenging film that's well worth
seeing, from one of our most interesting creators of complex characters.
On the other hand, it certainly won't be to everyone's taste or mood. I have
a feeling reactions to a film that has this much 'nails on a chalkboard' feeling
is a very individual, subjective matter.