Noah Baumbach has hit the mark with his new comedy slash drama slash coming-of-middle-age melancholy tale, While We’re Young.
While We’re Young tells the story of Josh and Cornelia, a middle-aged married couple whose lives are overturned when they meet Jamie and Darby, a young care-free couple with much different lives.
Whilst the film’s synopsis seems a little underwhelming, it really doesn’t do this story justice. This film has so many elements and is so rich that there is no effective way to describe it. It packs an unusual punch and is really entertaining.
Ben Stiller plays Josh, a semi-washed up documentarian struggling with his direction. Stiller seems to have this uneasy onscreen presence that leaves him only in strict comedies barring odd instances like Walter Mitty. This uneasiness is epitomised in that odd pout, teeth covering thing he does, but whatever it is, it works here. He is kooky and uncomfortable but it tells the right story and makes sense.
Naomi Watts is Cornelia; Josh’s documentary producing wife who begrudgingly goes along with plans to befriend the younger couple. Cornelia struggles to keep it together after a few life decisions are called in to question. Watts is great at the naturally unnatural thing that she does and she does it well again. Despite its comedic overtones, the dramatics of Watts’ performance didn’t go unnoticed.
Other notable performances were Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried – the younger couple that seem sweet and dandy but really have a stack of troubles of their own. Driver has his impeccable comedic timing combined with that love-it-hate-it face that he has become famous for and it’s great. Seyfried is good, not great, but there wasn’t really much wing room for her character.
The film seems to have been swiped with a nostalgic filter, reminiscing on a simpler time in the natural life cycle where dreams are possible and boundaries are far from view. But perhaps they were trying to say too much all at once; there were quite a few messages and not enough screen time. There was however a really strong wistful notion that lands you with weird sense of simultaneous empathy and aversion.
The story surrounds themes of aging and life fulfilment as well as the overarching idea that the grass always seems greener on the other side. Watching these characters yearning for a life outside their own gives off a sentimental aura that leaves you pining for something.
On it’s surface it’s a film about an overwhelming crush; a crush that, like most, turns out to be an infatuation with something you thought existed. But let’s not relive high school heartbreaks because this film deserves to be seen and who knows how long that sob fest could last.
Whilst there weren’t a stack of audible LOL’s, the film is intelligently comical and although you aren’t slapping those thighs in utter hilarity, it is highly amusing. On the downside, there were a few continuity issues that were noticeably unpolished but overall a really beautiful looking film.
Is it the greatest comedy drama we’ll see all year, probably not but it’s definitely worth a look. Try not to think too much about the messages Baumbach is trying to tell you and take it all in because it sure doesn’t finish in a typically predictable way.
Snippets of humour intertwined with intense moments makes for a really decent film.