June 28, 2015

While We're Young

Noah Baumbach, 2015
Noah Baumbach can easily be called a young Woody Allen. He often focuses on relationships between couples, set against the backdrop of New York. His films are very dialogue heavy, with a lot of cultural examination and introspective mania. The story mainly focuses on three couples at different phases in their lives. Marina and Fletcher, an early forties couple with a newborn (Maria Dizzia and Adam Horovitz). Cornelia and Josh, early forties couple with no children (Naomi Watts and Ben Stiller). Mid twenties hipster couple Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). Cornelia and Josh are feeling pressure from their peers upon seeing all of them procreating and living amidst the chaos of child-rearing. They feel refreshed when they meet Jamie and Darby, a young confident couple that seems to be so cool and sure of themselves. They are creative, optimistic, interested. Cornelia and Josh feel jaded and exhausted, and the young couple re-energizes them.

While We're Young starts off as more of a young vs old story, or at least a young AND old story. Growing older, becoming uncool. Being young, being inherently cool. Looking back, wondering where all of the years went. Being bold enough to wear that hat that all the young kids are wearing. There are some identifiable and really comedic moments early in the film when Josh is talking about all of the "cool" things that Jamie is doing, and you soon see a montage of Josh attempting to dress differently and step outside of his comfort zone. At one point Josh says of Jamie and Darby: "It's like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it."

Some of these moments probably transcend comedically to whatever perspective you are sharing with the characters. If you are married without a kid, you are probably identifying with Cornelia and Josh. If you are stuck in baby prison you are identifying with Marina and Fletcher. If you are a young hipster, you're probably not identifying with Jamie and Darby because that wouldn't be unitary and instead are probably identifying with the older generations attempting to pick up some on some of the trends of the millennial generation in terms of fashion or throwback technology. Baumbach decides to really double down on the hipster here, and double up on Adam Driver's Frances Ha hipster character Lev.

The problem with While We're Young is Baumbach's age breakdown is so energetic in the first half of the film, and the story really loses a lot of that energy in the second half of the film when the story primarily focuses on Jamie's documentary. Baumbach tries to go down another avenue to a statement on intellectual property theft and the sense of entitlement of the millennial generation and in the process sacrifices the excitement that fueled the beginning of the story. In the end While We're Young has a lot to say but doesn't feel as complete as some of Baumbach's other work such as Greenberg or The Squid and the Whale

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