As I left the theater I was very quiet. It is not that Greenberg put me into a reverential silence nor did it give me very much to think about. I walked out trying to figure out how I felt about it while I listened to a few other patrons quietly verbalize their feelings. Their comments ranged from "I don't get it" to "That's it?" to "That wasn't too bad." However, no one seemed to come right out and say they liked it.
I fall into that last group. I liked it, I didn't love it. It is a film I am having a hard time putting forming a definitive opinion about. There are elements I like about it just as there are things I don't particularly care for. The funny thing is that as I struggle to see, the movie makes up its own mind — it is almost like it really doesn't care one way or the other.
Greenberg is the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach. He is an interesting filmmaker who, in my limited experience, feeds off of his own experiences and is more interested in the characters than he is with any sort of plot development. This is clearly evidenced in Greenberg by a distinct lack of plot and a strongly organic approach to the characters. It is all very "indie" and that may be a potential reason for my reaction. While I respect indie filmmakers and their works and I am willing to give just about anything a chance, many of these character-based indie films escape me. I get them, they just don't affect me as much.
The extent of my Baumbach experience can be summed up in two films. I really enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is not really a Baumbach film but he did co-write the adaptation with Wes Anderson. The other film is the 2005 Oscar-nominated drama The Squid and the Whale, a semi-autobiographical film about his growing up in a broken home. I have not seen it since the theater, but I remember really liking it, the way the characters were written and the vivid portrait it painted.