The Squid and the Whale writer/director Noah Baumbach helms this tale of an intensely unlikeable Ben Stiller, playing a forty-something New Yorker, house sitting for his brother in California. Executed with purposeful indifference, this overtly offbeat title may find its way to a multiplex, but those attracted by the presence of Zoolander himself will be disappointed with its indie sensibilities. Still, as a character study it's not without its insightful observations...
Stiller is our titular character; unsure of his direction in life, and recovering from a recent mental breakdown, he retreats from New York for some rent-free relaxation at his brother's gaff on the west coast. Whilst there he befriends and seduces the nanny, avoids the neighbours, and reacquaints with Rhys Ifans old bandmate - who should really hold a grudge, but is apparently too laid back to argue or mutter anything above a mumble. He proceeds to use Ifans for lifts, and the naive Nanny for lifts and sex, whilst using the rest of his time writing letters to people who will never read them.
Floating on by, with rare moments of clarity and amusment, it's difficult to know what the point was to Greenberg. The performances are decent enough, with Greta Gerwig easily the stand-out; her likeable but slightly opaque nanny surely a recognisable figure to most who will attempt to deceit Baumbach's strangely indifferent feature.
It seems Greenberg is about observations; its titular character doesn't interact with people unless he wants something, and complains to those at the top of lofty hierarchy's, by writing letters - he dictates aloud to himself. He's a lonely, frustrated figure and it's often difficult to spend time with him, which is what Baumbach's point my very well be. Greenberg is just not comfortable around people unless it's on his terms, making him, quite frankly, a bit of a selfish bastard.
Interesting it may be, but it's not the kind of film you'll want to sit through more than once. The unsurprisingly ambiguous ending could stir up some post-viewing debate, for its subtle context, but it may also grate others - just as the main character does throughout. Not exactly a guy you want to spend time with in real life, but that hardly seems the point.