While We’re Young

4 out of 5 stars
While We’re Young

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Maturity is a slippery staircase in the comedies of American indie filmmaker Noah Baumbach (‘The Squid and the Whale’, ‘Greenberg’, ‘Frances Ha’). Baumbach delights in puffing up and then deflating characters who aren’t quite ready to grow up. ‘While We’re Young’ is the writer-director’s confident and charming latest, and it plays more like a Woody Allen-ish parody than any of his other movies – a shift that hasn’t required any sacrifice in insight, heart or bite.

Josh and Cornelia (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, both terrific) are Generation-Xers in a marriage cooled by stalling ambitions and a failure to join their friends’ baby parade. Josh is a documentary maker who has been labouring over the same dull film for years, while his wife’s father (Charles Grodin) is a documentary legend in the Albert Maysles mould who can barely conceal his disappointment in his son-in-law.

For Josh and Cordelia, it’s sexless nights on the iPad until the unexpected affections of a much younger couple, Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), energise their lives. Suddenly there are post-ironic hats to buy, hip hop dance classes to flail around in and trips to hipster hotspots in Brooklyn. Complicating things is the fact that Jamie is a young filmmaker, apparently in awe of Josh’s work – not something Josh has ever had to deal with before.

Baumbach could have rocked this register and made a perfectly fun comedy out of the premise: Josh and Cornelia marvel at the twentysomethings’ loft, complete with a pants-free female roommate, a caged chicken and ‘everything we once threw out’. But where he ends up – a place of real anxiety and envy – reflects the filmmaker’s nervy ambitions. If this is Baumbach’s commercial breakthrough, he will have made it halfway up that staircase while compromising nothing.

By: Joshua Rothkopf



Release details

Release date:
Friday April 3 2015
94 mins

Cast and crew

Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach
Naomi Watts
Amanda Seyfried
Adam Driver
Ben Stiller
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