Friday, December 10, 2010


Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans

"He's got a lot on his mind"

Noam Baumbach, the director of "The Squid and the Whale" pegs this indie film. The story follows Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) who returns to L.A. (from New York) in order to house-sit for his brother. Greenberg is forty years old and extremely neurotic. He no longer possesses a driver’s license, was hospitalized for depression and is content with doing absolutely nothing. Although he is a carpenter, by occupation. He seems comfortable with the idea of continuing with a lackluster existence. He spends his days writing complaint letters to the editor and walking Mahler, the German shepherd.

He meets his brother's assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig). Florence is a whimsical young adult struggling to find her place in the post-academic world, overwhelmed by thoughts of how to bring meaning to her life. She’s a likable character who tries to see the best in Greenberg – in spite of his routine temper tantrums, awkward demeanor, and disregard for the feelings of others.

I found Gerwig's easygoing performance entirely authentic and unaffected. Although sometimes I thought that Florence deserved a lot better in life than she gives herself credit for.

As for Stiller well frankly I never found his brand of comedy, funny. My first impressions of him were perfectly captured by his character in "Reality Bites". His first directorial film starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke.

As Greenberg, Ben Stiller has the gaunt and haunted look of a self-involved character who is suddenly confronted with the shocking realization that he has nothing concrete to show for at your age yet doesn't make any valid effort to correct his past mistakes. It was really sad and tragic. But a small part of me was telling myself, Greenberg deserves his sorry fate because truthfully he was one of the most unlikeable characters I've seen on the big screen.

To conclude, I think they were all generic indie characters who never seemed to have any internal motivation. Everyone seemed to behave like they simply have to accept their uninspiring existence which in essence can only work in an indie film.

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