Friday, April 3, 2015


While We're Young

While We're Young official site Despite that the starting point of middle-age has been pushed to be older in recent decades, that doesn't help to ease the anxiety for many who turn 40. That's especially the case for a likable couple in the writer-director Noah Baumbach's entertaining but restrained comedy "While We're Young" (USA 2014 | 97 min.). The film playfully and truthfully depicts the couple's emotional dilemma when they reluctantly step into a new stage of their lives while reminiscing their fading youth.

The couple is happily married documentary filmmaker Josh Srebnick (Ben Stiller) and his film-producer wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts). Both in their 40s, they have no child like many of their friends do, but they appear to be mostly content with their life together in New York City. However, when it comes to Josh's career, it hits the stop sigh. Josh has been trying to finish his documentary about war and politics for ten years, yet his pride and resentment prevent him from getting help from his father-in-law Leslie Breitbart (Charles Grodin) who is a celebrated documentarian.

After their friends Marina (Maria Dizzia) and her husband (Adam Horovitz) just had a baby, Josh and Cornelia grasp for some fresh hair that doesn't smell like forty-something. They desperately want to hold on to their fast vanishing youth a little bit longer. When twenty-something Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) "accidentally" run into their life, Josh and Cornelia quickly befriend with them because their young friends seem to possess all the qualities that are longing for—free-spirited, eccentric, hippie-looking, bicycle-riding, artistic, and totally cool.

However, whether that newly-established unusual friendship can ease Josh's mid-life crisis remains to be seen.

While We're Young Official Site

As in many of his previous films, the "indie darling" writer-director Noah Baumbach offers plenty wittily funny and even philosophical lines for his well-crafted characters in this comedy. But if you are expecting this film to be as charming and hilarious as the Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha" (2012), you might be disappointed. The tone is subdued and it lacks the quirkiness and energy as in his other films. Many comical moments are as predictable as in a typical Hollywood comedy, which is surprising for the filmmaker's reputation for providing unconventional materials in his films. For example, one episode of puking out evil into a bucket at an ayahuasca party doesn't seem to belong to this film at all. It rather looks familiar in an Adam Sandler's movie.

Like in his previous films, Noah Baumbach is keenly observant about contemporary pop-culture and brilliantly injects his commentaries into the discussion among his characters. Evidently, Josh's frustrating argument about documentary filmmaking is echoed by a recent article in The New York Times which analyzes the phenomenon that documentarians may be classified as journalists, storytellers, or advocates.

The performance by a fine ensemble cast is a terrific throughout the film. Ben Stiller gives his best performance in his career as a greying Josh who is exhausted both mentally and physically in the film.

This certainly isn't Noah Baumbach's best work, but it never bores and quite entertaining.

"While We're Young," an A24 release, opens on Friday, April 3, 2015 in San Francisco Bay Area.

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