Ben Oliver

Banner image for Greenberg


Hurt people hurt people.
08 May 2016

A neurotic, self-obsessed New Yorker (Ben Stiller) goes to house sit for his brother in L.A., and strikes up a relationship with his assistant (Greta Gerwig).

Greenberg leans heavily on its two leads and they are more than up to the task. Stiller has shown he has some acting chops in the past but after Night at the Museum 3 and Little Fockers this is an easily forgotten fact. Here he inhabits a loathsome character yet makes us still root for him. It’s probably nothing new but it’s still a difficult trick to pull off.

Gerwig’s work is just as effective. She seems to breeze through life, care free, yet gives off an undercurrent of sadness. The two sort-of fall for each other despite Greenberg’s best attempts to wreck the relationship.

There are only so many films you can take about narcissistic, well-to-do white people in one sitting, and Greenberg definitely falls into that category. However, it’s also a gently amusing and emotional character study. On a bad day I’d be a lot harsher on it but for whatever reason this one struck a chord with me.