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Greenberg

Year: 2010
Production Co: Scott Rudin Productions
Director: Noah Baumbach
Producer: Jennifer Jason Leigh/Scott Rudin
Writer: Noah Baumbach/Jennifer Jason Leigh
Cast: Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans, Greta Gerwig, Chris Messina

After a career of inane man-child comedies, Adam Sandler did something very clever in appearing in P T Anderson's Punch Drunk Love. It didn't depart too much from the persona he did so well (mild mannered everyman prone to sudden outbursts of violent temper) and suddenly it looked like he had real range.

Ben Stiller came to prominence in comedy too, but there's always been a subtext about him – that of a desperately sad, lonely man with myriad emotional problems simmering beneath the surface. So Greenberg isn't too much of a stretch for what Stiller does well, and he only has to sit back and lap up the accolades.

You can really buy him as a slightly angry man with a history of mental illness who's recently been released from mental health care. He arrives in LA to take care of his brother's family home while they all go on holidays, and tries to connect with their pretty household PA Florence (Gerwig) and former friend Ivan (Ifans).

His reaching out to them both is painful to watch. He has such a defensive, stilted way of relating to people it's no wonder I'd heard about how it was hard to like the character before seeing the movie.

Being a Noah Baumbach movie there's a minimum of plot, and it will put a lot of filmgoers off. You need to give it time and patience to get everything it has to offer out of it.

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