While We're Young


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

While We're Young
"This is Woody Allen territory, except not as funny"

Throwaway titles mean only one thing. This has to be a rom com. And yet... Writer/director Noah Baumbach touches the fears and truths others deny, like arthritis and failure.

Middle aged angst is the decay of dreams. Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are the perfect couple. Or were. Now they are becalmed in their forties. Expectation is over; promise perished on the road. "We never go anywhere," Cornelia tells Josh. "You're an old man with a hat."

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He is a documentary filmmaker who has spent the last 10 years researching the follow up to his successful debut. His father-in-law (Charles Grodin) is a legend in the genre. He considers Josh to be a waste of space, a one trick pony, a spent force (what force?). Cornelia is beginning to feel embarrassed. "You're a child imitating a grown up."

They meet Jamie (Adam Driver) who thinks - or says he thinks - that Josh is some kind of genius. He and his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) live in a New York loft, high on enthusiasm and the occasional weed. They are a mirror image of what Josh and Cornelia used to be - free, in love, filled with energy and ideas. Josh wants to help Jamie with the film he is making. Is this a gesture of friendship, or desperation?

He is flattered and revitalised by being taken seriously by a younger man until jealousy and paranoia poisons the relationship. Is Jamie using Josh to advance his career? Has Cornelia realised that marriage for life with a film school graduate is to swim in a sea of possibilities that never reaches fruition.

This is Woody Allen territory, except not as funny. Baumbach talks about the creeping despair of a talent grown stale. Lovers, wives, acolytes become casualties of artistic endeavor.

The film feels close to the bone - his bone - and has an insularity that requires the star quality of Stiller and Watts to broaden its appeal.

"What's the opposite of the world is your oyster?"


Reviewed on: 05 Apr 2015
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Middle aged angst in the documentary film world of New York
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Director: Noah Baumbach

Writer: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin, Adam Horovitz, Matthew Maher, Peter Yarrow

Year: 2014

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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