Tuesday, 14 April 2015

While We're Young

"For the first time in my life I've stopped looking at myself as if I'm a child imitating an adult."

Apparently there is a danger in youth. There’s also an even greater danger in adopting the lifestyle of a youth and several films have tried to address this such as last year’s Bad Neighbours. But it’s safe to say that very few have tackled the generation gap head on for quite a while. But has this charming and star studded comedy drama managed to even scratch the surface?
Childless documentary filmmakers Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) find themselves rejuvenated when they befriend a young married couple Jaime (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) but issues arise as Josh and Jamie start to collaborate on a new project.
In many ways you can think of this as the culmination of director Noah Baumbach’s two previous films, Greenberg (also featuring Ben Stiller) about a man heading towards a mid-life crisis, and Frances Ha about a youth with no idea concerning what to do with his life. Here those two tones and ideologies collide head on, but rather than being crowded and cluttered, the result is a great mix (slightly more in favour of the older couple) of generations and the jealousy between them. We see both  of them shine in their own right once again and interact in wonderfully inventive and entertaining ways. There’s even a small insight into the next generation up in the form of Charles Grodin as Stiller’s father in law.
That generation gap really does act as the emotional centre of the film. Through all of the comedy there’s the heartfelt realisation for the younger couple that they’re not going to live forever, in many ways they’re already past their prime from a certain perspective. But the same goes for the older couple as they have to accept that they have to accept the prospect of being out of touch with the what’s new and accepting their own age.
Where most comedies will simply drive a joke into the ground for as long as possible While We’re Young knows where to draw the line and thankfully it’s while we’re young and not bored to death with the same style of humour. Instead they just let a great moment remain untouched, and there are a lot of them, some of them come into play later and some don’t but you still enjoy them all.
The dialogue is wonderfully written. There’s an almost seamless blend of comedy and drama, neither really dominating or obscuring the other for a massive portion of the film, even the most heavy handed scenes have comedy woven throughout and there’s a nice amount of social commentary to wrap it all up. It feels like a genuinely intelligent film, remember that, when comedy used to be intelligent as well as hilarious. True we did see it in Birdman, but it’s back here as well. Joy of joys.
Stiller’s performance really stands out here though. It may not be the one that would win an Oscar, but he is able to fully flesh out and give life to a character that on the surface appears to be there to represent the oldies. But instead there’s an honesty to his role here that makes it feel unique and general at the same time, one that we can relate to but also enjoy watching. His and Watts’ relationship feels genuine as well, with enough enjoyable moments there to fill their own film, possibly, or not. It’s still good though.
Driver also introduces a nearly irresistible sincerity and awkward joviality himself. Though he contrasts with Stiller he makes it obvious that they share a passion for a common interest and that means you can really understand why they have a friendship and furthermore, you feel as if you would want to get to know them both as well.
Intelligent, funny, heartfelt, wonderfully believable and all topped with a great soundtrack, it just feels like something that came out of Woody Allen’s scrapbook and has been given new life by a fresh face.
Result: 9/10

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