While We're Young
Noah Baumbach's While We're Young is an unbalanced film about youth and how we both miss it and hate it. Baumbach hasn't exactly captured lightening in a bottle, but his approach is sincere enough to deem it a worthy viewing, despite the film's negative general attitude.
Indie director/writer Noah Baumbach‘s While We’re Young is the filmmaker’s latest descent into sadness, as he approaches youth and how we both miss it and hate it with an angry swing, constantly shaking his head at today’s youth with an unusual amount of negativity.
Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are a kid-less couple in their middle-aged years. They don’t exactly regret all of those missed opportunities that they passed up on when they were young, but they do kind of miss the days of being wild and free.
These feelings poke their heads out when the couple runs into Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) — a young and hip couple in their 20s.
Instantly, Josh and Cornelia start to use this newly-formed relationship as a means of escaping to their past and clinging onto youth once more, in hopes of revitalizing their own personal lives and perhaps strengthening their beliefs on age and their lack of interest in acting their own age.
Noah Baumbach has made many great films, all of which come with a unique vision of comedy and honest sincerity. His characters are often relatable and sometimes a little too comical in how they handle certain situations.
But Baumbach almost always manages to bring things around and deliver films that feel both funny and yet true, always wrestling with their source material in a manner that just makes sense.
While We’re Young doesn’t exactly follow that format and instead feels like an angry middle-aged man writing from a tall tree, looking down on the youth of today in disgust.
He doesn’t just convey this message with his characters, which are almost as different just as much as they are the same. He does this with the film’s tone, which is mostly depressing and makes for a downer of a film.
Sure, there are plenty of laughs to be found when Ben Stiller finds out that his knees have arthritis or when Naomi Watts‘ character takes up a gangster rap dance class to try and fit in, but those comedic moments are light, while the film’s distressing tone is constantly lingering over everything else.
Baumbach did this once before with Ben Stiller in Greenberg, which is an under-rated gem. That film cleverly ties in the feelings of hopelessness and being lost in a world among adults, wondering exactly where you fit in, while also being a complete dick to everyone around you.
But that works as both a black comedy and an honest approach at negativity, while While We’re Young tries to expose the hip and cool youngsters of today through a light of superiority that is almost sickening.
Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried fit their roles on basic levels, each corresponding to their characters age and stereotypes fine, but doing nothing more than filling those voided stereotypes with a thin layer of security.
Not a single one of them sticks out above the rest and gives the film any sort of life or hope, leaving Baumbach’s film feeling like a big middle finger in the air to anyone that has ever cracked an innocent joke about age to Baumbach at some point in time.
While We’re Young isn’t the Noah Baumbach film that fans might be expecting and is instead a filmmaker’s attempt at letting out a little steam and venting on a rather large canvas. I sure hope that he got it all out, because I’d love to see him return to making films with a little more heart and energy in them.