Directed by: Noah Baumbach | 97 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Maria Dizzia, Adam Horovitz, Matthew Maher, Peter Yarrow, Bonnie Kaufman, Hector Otero, Deborah Eisenberg, Adam Driver, Dree Hemingway, Matthew Shear, Annie Baker, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Charles Grodin, Brady Corbet , Wyatt Raiff, Peter Bogdanovich
Noah Baumbach manages to deliver a bad film. So far, the American director has alternated reasonable films (“Margot at the Wedding”, “Greenberg”) with gems (“Frances Ha”, “The Squid and the Whale”). Baumbach has also made the necessary steps as a screenwriter, both for his own films and those of Wes Anderson. In short, we can look forward to a new Baumbach production with confidence.
Even “While We’re Young” does not betray that trust. In this comic relationship drama, we met Cornelia and Josh, a cheerful couple in their forties. Documentary maker Josh has been working on a new film for eight years now, Cornelia is a successful producer with a legendary documentary maker as a father. Unlike their circle of friends, they don’t have children, so Josh and Cornelia become increasingly alienated from their peers. Then they meet the young documentary maker Jamie and his girlfriend Darby. They drag the two in their forties into their hip existence. But at what cost?
This simple story contains two major topics. The film deals with the meaning-seeking existence of childless people in their forties. Joining the hip youth seems fun, but it is no more than a hopeless flight to the front. In addition, the film is about fact and fiction within documentaries. How do you separate them and how far can you go to uncover the truth?
These two topics are not a smooth marriage. The first focuses fully on the heart, the second on the mind. At the first you can have a good laugh: Josh with his osteoarthritis, Cornelia in her hip-hop phase, their two youthful friends engaged in hobbies (ice cream making, board games) that are so old-fashioned that they become hip again. Seriousness trumps the second topic.
It makes “While We’re Young” an amusing but unbalanced film. They act well, with Naomi Watts and a modest Charles Grodin in the lead. We are presented with original images of a shaman on a Vespa and of a nauseating ayahuasca session. But there are also whole pieces that just keep moving forward. All in all, this Baumbach fits perfectly in the list of “Greenberg” and “Margot at the Wedding”. Witty and intelligent, but not always focused.