While We’re Young
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Maria Dizzia, Adam Horovitz, Dree Hemingway, Charles Grodin, Peter Bogdanovich
Seen on: 11.8.2015
Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) have been together for a while and are quite settled in their lives as their friends left and right start to have children. Josh gives lectures at uni and works on the same documentary he’s been working on for years, Cornelia works as a producer with her father Leslie (Charles Grodin), a famous documentary filmmaker. One day after class Josh is approached by Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a young hip couple. Josh is flattered by their admiration and they start to hang out together more, making both Josh and Cornelia painfully aware that they are not 20 anymore. But maybe they can change that.
While We’re Young wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I had fun for the most part, but the end did leave a weird taste in my mouth.
While We’re Young is a film about how we all have to face growing up at some point. That doesn’t mean that we have to leave our childish humor behind, nor does it mean that we have to grow into ambitious careerists. But it does mean that we grow older and that we have to face up to our responsibilities. That part of the movie I liked quite a bit. And I liked that Josh and Cornelia are getting through this development and process together and that it doesn’t mean that they develop away from each other but rather that they grow in the same direction.
But what I didn’t like about it was the fact that apparently growing up means having to have children. [SPOILERS] Throughout the film both Josh and Cornelia state that they don’t really want to have children and that they’re perfectly fine with it. As it later turns out, this is a sour grapes situation: they tried to have a kid. They lost it. Trying again is too painful, so they’d rather pretend that they don’t actually want any. And since society likes to tell people, especially women, that of course they want children; if they don’t do now, they will later; if they don’t have any, they’ll end up unhappy, I hated that explanation for their childlessness and the happy end when they do get pregnant again after all and have a kid, since it feeds exactly into that notion. Some people don’t want to have kids because they don’t want to have kids and that is perfectly okay. We need to see more of those stories. [/SPOILERS]
So that ending left a bit of a weird aftertaste. And I’m very uncertain about what Baumbach actually wanted to say about documentary movies. Did he want to say anything? It sure feels like it. But whether it’s a call for absolute relativism where only the story counts or whether it’s a call for honest, naturalistic reproduction or whether it’s something else entirely – fuck if I know.
Despite those things, though, I did enjoy While We’re Young. It did have some very nice jokes and the cast is great, although Driver plays the asshole so well that you barely understand why Josh would want to hang with him. I for my part wanted to repeatedly punch Jamie. Be that as it may, the film makes for an entertaining two hours with a light sense of humor and a bitter-sweet center.