GREENBERG begins with Gerwig, and from that moment on, the film is hers; she gives Florence a loudly beating heart and a determined stride. This makes her twentysomething ennui and terror compelling and believable. And then there's Stiller. It's hard to hug a porcupine, and he makes for a good one. As Roger, he exhibits -- and sheds -- more layers than he ever has in his career. He's rude, selfish, and myopic, but also bewildered, yearning, and scared. For their performances alone, it's worth seeing the film.
It's also freshly conceived, totally humane and gorgeous, too, and may be director Noah Baumbach's best movie yet. The Squid and the Whale distilled parental self-absorption within a very specific time and place, but this film's much less claustrophobic; we feel the story instead of observe it. Which may explain why we feel so frustrated in the end, too. Roger and Florence feel like such real people, it's hard to believe in a happily ever after (or even a while). In the end, Roger's metamorphosis seems rushed and inauthentic, and Florence's acceptance of him nearly pathetic. When Roger tells her she has "value," we long for her to truly believe it.