Noah Baumbach‘s While We’re Young is a comedy about relationships, in particular relationships between the young and the old. It’s wickedly funny but looses its momentum when it tries to tell a story.
Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a middle aged couple who feel that life has passed them by – they bond with a young couple, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, and suddenly feel rejuvenated. Baumbach dissects these four characters ruthlessly, highlighting the worst aspects of both generations. The film starts to go astray when a plot starts to form; Stiller plays a documentary film-maker and starts to help Driver with a film of his own and soon the older man starts to find out that his younger friend is not all that he seems.
Where While We’re Young works best when it is simply a character piece. The four leads are hilarious as likeable arseholes. Stiller is the best he has ever been as a lost and slightly weak man, while Watts highlights how funny she can be (something not on display in Movie 43). It is Driver who almost steals the film, he is simultaneously magnetic, making it completely understandable why Stiller is drawn to him, and absolutely ghastly; combining ignorance with a monstrous ego flawlessly.
Another highlight is the presence of Charles Grodin, one of the funniest American comedians of all time. Playing Watts’ father he is wonderfully stoic and his dry sense of humour adds something to every scene he is in.
As I said it is when a story starts to develop that the witty observations and wonderful characters are somewhat sidelined. In the last few scenes, however, the jokes return and the film ends in a satisfactory way.
Noah Baumbach continues his run of creating memorable characters. While We’re Young is a highly observant, entertaining comedy boasting knock out performances.
Comedy,Drama | USA, 2014 | Icon Film Distribution | 15 | 27th July 2015 (UK) | Dir.Noah Baumbach | Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Horovitz, Charles Grodin |Buy:While We’re Young [Blu-ray]