Rated 3.0

Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s eponymous antihero is played by a rebarbative and perpetually nettled Ben Stiller, just in from New York midlife crisis to haunt the Los Angeles home of his well-to-do brother (Chris Messina) and brood on his own fallow creative ambitions. He reconnects with a former bandmate (Rhys Ifans) and with an old flame (Jennifer Jason Leigh), broaches and botches an irresolute affair with his brother’s personal assistant (Greta Gerwig), and burrows deep into the dramedy of unlikability. It’s a fine, self-inverting turn from Stiller, who for once seems not to crave our attention but instead to be burdened by it, and a self-expanding one from Sacramento-native Gerwig, who has a generously recessive way of suggesting that this movie may actually be about her. Baumbach is as perceptive about aimlessness as he is adept at offhandedness; whether these gifts are ideally complementary may have to remain an open question.