While her boss Phil Greenberg (Messina) and family are on holiday, Florence (Gerwig) is taking care of their home and dog. And she also ends up taking care of his brother Roger (Stiller) when he comes to stay in the house. Roger is obsessive-compulsive and not very good at relationships. He gets in touch with his old pal (Ifans) and his newly single ex (Leigh), but is unable to avoid falling for Florence along the way. This doesn't go too well at all, mainly because Roger can't think through anything clearly.
Baumbach inventively infuses the whole movie with Roger's askew personality and perception. Scenes hesitate and take bewildering turns, while the pace of the editing feels organically sluggish, like a man on psychotropic drugs.
Meanwhile, the plot drifts along with seemingly no direction in mind. All of this creates a vivid atmosphere, but without any real momentum all of this navel-gazing isn't very engaging.
The best thing about the film is Gerwig, and it could be argued that Florence is the film's central character, as she's the one who takes the most interesting, involving journey. Gerwig vividly portrays Florence as she tentatively tries to emerge from her shell using good humour and a realistic worldview. She quickly realises that Roger is in a worse place than she is ("Normal stuff is really hard for him," she tells a friend), and Gerwig's scenes with the always-watchable Stiller have a warm, dryly hilarious tone to them.
The film is packed with astute observations and authentic moments, but it's all so one-note that it's annoyingly dull to watch. Despite some very funny dialog, this is ultimately a film about desperate, sad people who are trying to overcome past heartbreaks as they realise they will never achieve their youthful ambitions. But since the awkwardness of their interaction feels utterly real, with half conversations and unfinished physicality, this also means the film never quite manages to say anything to us.
Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 1st April 2010
Box Office USA: $2.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $6.2M
Distributed by: Focus Features
Production compaines: Scott Rudin Productions, Twins Financing
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 120 Rotten: 41
IMDB: 6.1 / 10
Director: Noah Baumbach
Screenwriter: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Greta Gerwig as Florence Marr, Ben Stiller as Roger Greenberg, Chris Messina as Phillip Greenberg, Koby Rouviere as Greenberg (boy), Sydney Rouviere as Greenberg Girl, Susan Traylor as Carol Greenberg, Merritt Wever as Gina, Rhys Ifans as Ivan Schrank, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Beth, Mina Badie as Peggy, Mark Duplass as Eric Beller, Dave Franco as Rich
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