Greenberg: Roger Might Not Be An Asshole

Not a normal Niche review, because GREENBERG is getting a lot of press, but Baumbach's genius here is not in creating something for the masses it is creating something far too human.

And so it begins...

Noah Baumbach does it again. By it I am referring to his simple ambiguous style he refined in SQUID AND THE WHALE and continued in MARGOT AT THE WEDDING - both films contain a feeling that is never conveyed within the narrative. He never hands us his characters - though he used to i.e. KICKING AND SCREAMING (1995). His characters create themselves on the screen and we are given a glimpse at their psychology but pinpointing them or stereotyping them is impossible - because they are ‘real.’

Roger Greenberg is 40, lost, and recovering from a mental breakdown. This said mental breakdown is never given description or reason which is what makes it human, sure a shortcut would be Roger has lead a life without any direction until it finally collapsed upon him, or the negation of a musical career has finally taken its toll, but a breakdown never has one specific cause. Roger has become an anxiety induced monster that builds defenses all around him to create what he believes is comfort, but while watching his brother’s house for six weeks in the city where all his old ties remain, those walls begin to crumble. Enter Florence Marr played by Greta Gerwig, everyone’s favorite mumble-core girl. Florence is 25, lost, and recovering from a long term relationship - she is vulnerable and wading in the shallow end of despair. The two of them have the oddest and most awkward chemistry of an on-screen couple I’ve seen, but it works, and that is what makes the film good.

One could write Roger off as an asshole, but there is much more to him. It’s great that at one moment you can sympathize with him, and then the next really hate him. His party scene is by far some of the best dialogue in the film - he trashes college freshman types while on coke = pure gold.

Baumbach asked James Murphy to do the score because the script came out of a sort of musical epiphany that happened to him and Jenifer Jason Leigh while listening to LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends.” Murphy’s music works perfectly in the film and each track makes your head bob to the beat.

Of course this film isn't for everyone, if it were it would be called NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3 and lack any artistic talent or creativity.



  1. I'm so glad to have my favorite film of 2010 be included on your site! Great review!


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