July 27, 2016

We all make mistakes. That is a dictum of life. It’s surprising how ignored it is and how discouraged one is to fail in the world. Then again current with this theme of artificial organizing is that the soul is now completely detached from the world it swims in.


The title Greenberg centers around one such man who made a big mistake earlier in his life. It was a genuine chance to fulfill his prime years. And through passing on his opportunity unwittingly, he has tied to find peace in the world by being placid. He comes from well-to-do family judging by the luxury he has had in being able to wander through life, settling in New York City as a carpenter, and embracing it like a native when he comes to house sit his brother’s affluent house, chopping down Los Angeles along the way despite the fact he was born and raised there.


He is a very interesting character. He is loaded with neurosis, yet the script marvelously keeps its acidity neutralized. Often times one wonders how this person sustains any human relationships with the answer revealed with his next word. Greenberg is not a bad person for being disillusioned with life. And in fact, one ought to find respect for someone who would rather build up his anxieties into a mental collapse, leading to a mental hospital than contort his take on life and tear down how other people live. We may find that that is what he does with his persnickety, accomplishing it passive-aggressively, but really that is just part of his integrity. Critique does not come from someone who wants to blemish the world. Critique comes from someone who wants to perfect it.


The film begins, however, centered on the functional au pair of Greenberg’s brother. It shows her in a similar age when Greenberg missed his opportunity at excelling. Is this to suggest she too is missing out on something? Unfortunately we do not see any sort of ambition on her end. We do not see her desires for fulfillment. Yes, there is her open mic singing. But that is more an expression of a hobby than a passionate pursuit toward some higher end.


Does the film cheaply use her as some sort of sexual tension? What for then? Does it reveal that her interest in someone she knows is only around for 6 weeks demonstrates absent-mindedness which informs us on her directionless path in the world? she is four years out of college, still “trying to figure herself out”. It is amazing how delayed self-discovery is now in society. by the time she knows where she is going, she will be at least 30, on the ebbing decline of her sexual prime. Or does that even matter to her? Such a question exposes the void in her life, as well as Greenberg’s, and possibly all of the characters in the story.


So there is a void then. Buried deep beneath the chaos of the biological churning in the narrative, there is nihilism. It is so masterfully hidden, however. It does not ache in the mind as the story moves. Particularly because the characters are so oblivious to it. Which is a true depiction of how reality is. A despiritualized culture is a nihilistic culture. The self-gratification of the Last Man is not overt in Greenberg. There is no emotional charge to the film. The moral does not meditate on whipping him. The theme is not concerned with lavishness. However, neither is the theme picayune, focusing on a mediocre 41 year old. There is no pity party.


All we can say is that Greenberg tells the story of the aftermath of a poor decision; A real world that was not sought after; A consequence of human ignorance. If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. If that was the dominant mantra of Greenberg’s culture, we wouldn’t have this kind of story, which projects the problem of living with too much freedom.


Grade : B+



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