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Awkward is the new black, if black is still the new black. From Kristen Stewart’s tomboyish stiffness to Michael Cera’s adorable gawkiness, awkward seems to translate well in the box office. And Greta Gerwig and Ben Stiller do their own brand of awkward to a tee in Greenberg. The former a 20-something pushover in ill-fitted clothes that were probably bought for her 15-year-old body and the latter a middle-aged narcissist whose new project is to do nothing except write angry letters to corporations – both holding on to the past in fear of the future.

This has writer/director Noah Baumbach’s (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) signature gloomy meets quirky scribbled all over it, and his take on the lost souls of Los Angeles is a welcomed change from the glitz and plasticity of L.A. that we are bombarded with in movies, television and reality shows.

Whether or not Baumbach’s awkward will translate to box office dollars remains a question mark but this is a must-watch for those who are not afraid to go on a journey with an unlikable protagonist. Greenberg will be remembered as that movie Ben Stiller played a serious character in, but really, that’s not such a bad thing. Special mention goes to Rhys Ifans, whose in-the-background supporting character is played to unassuming perfection.

In cinemas 22 Jul 2010


  1. A fantastic review. Baumbach’s Greenberg sparkles on screen thanks to Stiller’s prickly portrayal of the ornery, inelegant forty-something lost in a world bereft of the choices and rewards seemingly so plentiful in his delusory, anti-establishment youth. It’s an hour and a half of cinematic brilliance that will probably leave some viewers with the distinctly uncomfortable feeling that the maladroit Greenberg is a fractured echo of themselves. Look forward to reading more of your reviews.

  2. “…lost in a world bereft of the choices and rewards seemingly so plentiful in his delusory, anti-establishment youth”

    True that!

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