While We’re Young

There’s a distinct Woody Allen-esque vibe to writer-director Noah Baumbach’s charming comedy While We’re Young, which takes a funny, sometimes bittersweet, and occasionally brutal look at the inevitable reality that is ageing. 

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York couple in their forties, who feel alienated from their similar-aged friends whose lives now revolve completely around their toddlers. Josh, a documentary filmmaker, has been working to complete his latest project for close to ten years, and it doesn’t help that Cornelia’s father, a legendary documentarian, casts a long shadow. But things change when the pair meets and befriends Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a free-spirited couple in their twenties who remind them of all the things they used to be. 

Baumbach exploits this scenario to make some sharp observations about both generations, mining laughs out of Josh and Cornelia’s desperate attempts to recapture their youth. Like some of Woody Allen’s best films, this is an intelligent movie packed with witty one-liners, but there are more than a few scenes of laugh-out-loud physical comedy too. 

Stiller and Watts both offer compelling performances, with Stiller nicely underplaying, and Watts drawing both humor and pathos from her character. As is typical of the director’s films, there’s scathing honesty beneath the witty exterior, and aside from a clunky portion in which the two couples embark on a spiritual retreat where they “vomit up demons”, Baumbach’s script seldom misses a beat. 

Anyone feeling wistful about their youth will likely relate to the many truths this film holds a mirror to, more than once cutting too close to the bone. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for While We’re Young. I came out feeling wiser and enriched. I think you will too.

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