Posts Tagged ‘review’

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In the film Greenberg, Ben Stiller’s character sees the world as false and meaningless and he’s bitter about this, resulting in a form of nihilism.

In the same film, Greta Gerwig’s character sees the world the same way, but, instead of bemoaning this or going on a quixotic quest for truth or certainty, her character seems to say you that you should rather begin with the knowledge that you’re obviously, automatically just playing at reality and then mean that playing as if it was real.

By acting with conviction (meaning what you say to the best of your ability), your actions then become real and this is the only way to deal with things.

According to the film critic A.O. Scott, Greta Gerwig herself is:

embarked on a project, however piecemeal and modestly scaled, of redefining just what it is we talk about when we talk about acting.


He says:

She will play – that’s what acting is – but she will also mean what she says.


In a key scene from Greenberg, Gerwig recounts a story, which is told like a dream, in which she and a friend play (or “like, are”) these “slut” characters who let themselves be picked up by random guys at a bar.

Her point (as broken and dream-like as it sounds) is that she is not really that girl, but when she played that girl like she meant it she became that girl because that’s what happens when you mean the part you play.

As she tells this to Greenberg, she looks at him with equal parts longing and hysteria as if to say:

I’m sorry I’m telling you this, but this is – to the best I can tell – my situation – my un-real real situation.


This is her philosophy.

NOTE: This post was inspired by Stanley Cavell’s The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (1971).