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Directed by Noah Baumbach (Scott Rudin Productions)

Noah Baumbach specializes in narcissistic jerks, but none of his previous creations, from Jeff Daniels’ arrogant academic in The Squid and the Whale to Nicole Kidman’s ice queen in Margot at the Wedding, can match Ben Stiller’s Roger Greenberg for sheer assholery. Greenberg is a seething, socially inept 40-something who spends his time writing complaint letters and alienating old friends and new acquaintances alike with his bitter whining. While housesitting in Los Angeles, he hooks up---in a scene of squirmy awkwardness---with Florence (Greta Gerwig), his brother’s young, doe-eyed assistant. Their attraction strains credibility, but Baumbach makes it work by revealing the sadness underneath Florence’s sunny exterior and allowing Greenberg just enough humanity to suggest possible redemption. Although Greenberg is a total dick, Greenberg is good company.
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Vol 26, No 28
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