“Greenberg” is a very depressing
film about two very depressed characters.
But once you get into it, you find yourself caring about them, anyway,
and hoping that somehow, some way, they would find a little happiness---and
maybe even through each other.
Ben Stiller plays Roger Greenberg, a
failed musician who’s just been released from a mental institution.
He’s invited by his enormously successful brother to house-sit while
they take an exotic vacation to the
. So Roger is in charge---of the
pool, the dog, and his promise to personally build a doghouse in the back
Roger has a hard time being with
himself. He’s constantly
anxious, he obsesses about things he can’t do anything about, he can’t
stay focused on anything for very long, he has a hair-trigger temper, and he
suffers from a very low self-image, which he compensates for with biting
sarcasm. Throw in some good ol’ agoraphobia, and you have a real weirdo,
someone you’d normally take pains to avoid.
(Greta Gerwig) is the nanny/personal assistant to the rich brother, and she is
almost as insecure as Roger is. She’s
been out of college and single for a decade now, and desperately wants someone
to love her. She tells people she
just got out of a long, messy relationship, but the truth is there have been
pitifully few opportunities for her in that department:
a few one-night stands here and there, which were pathetic in their
meaninglessness, even to her. For
some reason, she’s attracted to Roger----she wants to rescue him?
To cure him? To help him
find his place in the world? He’s
so non-adept at fielding her invitations, both subtle and direct, that she is
forced to conclude that there can’t be any future here.
But he keeps calling her anyway, every time he has a problem, as if he
doesn’t know what else to do.
Roger tries to re-connect with some old
friends that used to be in his band, but they wind up rehearsing old grudges
about the way things were handled back then, and besides, they have little in
common now. Roger discovers that
the dog is seriously ill, and though taking him to the vet is a pain,
especially when he doesn’t drive, Roger manages, for just a little while, to
get outside of himself and think about something else besides continually
looping around all his old phobias and failures.
And Greta, after once blurting out plaintively to him, “Do you think
you can love me?” gets out of her neediness long enough to realize that this
complex, nerdy man has some good qualities, but the relationship is definitely
going to be a work in progress.
For anybody who’s ever experienced
living the life that you didn’t exactly plan, because of whatever set of
decisions, circumstances, and unexpected setbacks, you’ll find some points
of identification here. Just
don’t expect perfection. And be
prepared to mistrust euphoria.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace