*this review is part of the NOW STREAMING series. “While We’re Young” can be viewed on Amazon Prime*
Ah, growing up. “For the first time in my life, I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult” – Josh (Ben Stiller). This quote pretty much sums up the film – honest, funny, awkward, poignant, sometimes absurd, and ambitious.
This film centers around a middle-aged (but deliciously attractive, like old wine) couple, Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts). Josh is an unsuccessful documentary filmmaker who, along with Cornelia, meet the young, disgustingly (yet accurate) hipster couple Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). Jamie is also a documentary filmmaker, and the two couples spawn a friendship.
(Those damn hat-wearing, bike toting hipsters)
This film could’ve panned out as a simple, cliche mid-life crisis story, but not in the hands of NOAH FREAKING BAUMBACH.
-quote from Noah Baumbach
BAUMBACH’S WRITING SKILLS AND EVOLVING STYLE WILL KEEP YOU OCCUPIED
The script is absolutely the best part of this film. The hilarious and insightful dialogue never stops, and whenever scenes get slow (trust me, they do), just listen to the actual words the characters are saying. There are so many layers of subtle comedy in the dialogue, it’s unreal.
-me, talking about this movie.
Noah Baumbach is also a brilliant technician. Nothing is quite as striking in the film as in “Frances Ha” (his previous film, which he chose to make black-and-white) or perhaps in the films of Wes Anderson, a notoriously quirky filmmaker (whom he collaborated with on “Fantastic Mr. Fox”). What’s striking in the film, besides the simple-yet-effective cinematography, is the editing, which seems to go with the characters/situations. Pay attention to the cutting in the scenes with the hipsters vs the old folks, and you’ll see what I mean.
(no, we didn’t get to see “Blue Steel”)
The other strength of the film is the acting. Ben Stiller got to flash a different style of comedy than we are used to seeing, and he really embodied the theme of the story. Adam Driver is the perfect hipster douchebag, Naomi Watts was vulnerable and dynamic, and Amanda Seyfried, well, she did all right.
Yeah, sorry fans. She was just alright. Not to mention I couldn’t understand what she was saying half of the time.
But the rest of the cast is great!
THE SCRIPT AND THE ACTING REALLY HOLD THIS THING TOGETHER, BECAUSE THE ENDING IS
Sorry, it’s just I couldn’t care less about the merits of documentary filmmaking. That was a big part of the story, and honestly, it distracted from the good stuff. The film really started to deviate and lose ground towards the end.
The best parts of this film were in the poignant, observant scenes about aging and in the hilarious, insane, and usually subtle comic moments. The rest just felt sort of forced to me. I mean, hell, if you’re a small-time documentary filmmaker, you’d probably love it.
In the end, it’s about the “freaking forties” (is that a phrase?), honesty, and the burning desire to be in touch with a younger, more optimistic, seemingly more successful generation.
I might’ve reviewed this movie differently if I was in a theater, but given that I was at home eating junk food, I will tell you to WATCH IT.
(me, reviewing this movie)
It’s funny, emotional, and interesting enough to keep you happy, and it’s a good way to introduce yourself to the intriguing filmography of Noah Baumbach.