As the masses flocked in to see Ultron, Kathy and I slipped quietly into an almost empty theatre featuring that rare thing: an intelligent comedy drama. That's the age we live in (sigh).
Noah Baumbach, the writer/director behind Greenberg and Frances Ha, has given us another wise, witty and thought-provoking satirical drama for adults. This time it’s about a forty-something couple (Josh and Cornelia, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) whose lives intersect with a twenty-something couple (Jamie and Darby, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), with both positive and negative results.
Josh is a documentary filmmaker who’s been working on his latest film for eight years and Cornelia is bored. When Jamie and Darby show up at a class Josh is teaching, the two couples start a unique friendship that provides all kinds of social commentary on the age we live in (e.g. exposing the problems and deceits of both the young and the middle-aged as they search for an authentic lifestyle). But when Jamie begins filming his own documentary, Josh becomes jealous and then discovers that not everything going on around him is at it seems.
While We’re Young has some great dialogue (and some silly dialogue) and offers a lot to think about on subjects like our current smartphone culture. The documentaries in the background provide some additional food for thought. I was surprised by how much of the film was about making documentaries, but, as someone who watches a lot of documentaries, this only enhanced my enjoyment of the film.
Watts is always great, and Driver and Seyfried were well-cast, but I’m not so sure about Stiller. Either the casting was off or his performance wasn’t as good as the others (a little over the top, as usual for Stiller?). Either way, I had occasional trouble finding him believable, especially near the end of the film. There were a couple of scenes in particular that didn’t work for me at all, like the overly-long one involving a Peruvian root juice. Nevertheless, this satire is still a major step up from most comedy dramas these days, so I’m giving While We’re Young ***+. My mug is up.