Will Noah Baumbach be the next Woody Allen? Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. I’m a big fan of both too but I’m obliged to acknowledge the prevalence of over-educated, creative industry-types mingling in up-state NY in both directors’ repertoires.
“While we’re young” tackles our need to feel purposeful and how the direction of the need changes as we grow older. Much akin to “The Squid and the Whale” and “Frances Ha” (the extent of the Baumbachs I’ve seen) our creative, this time an almost outta time filmmaker (Ben Stiller), whose masterwork is stuck in post-production purgatory becomes unsatisfied with the rut he’s unknowingly slipped into. “We could go anywhere if we wanted” ”If we planned like a month in advance, yeah”. Naomi Watts plays his significant other, they sit at home on their tablets, they go out to eat, but they’re both bored.
One day they meet a young couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried who act like they used to live with Hansel. They’re full of ambition, spunk and cool, intellectual vigor and this slowly chisels our middle-aged heroes into the people they want to be… or does it?
It be comedy first though, in a similarly bittersweet way to Mike Leigh’s “Life is Sweet” or “Happy-go-Lucky” where observation of life’s mundane banalities or hitting of meaningless milestones becomes funny. Even though a lot of us find it hard to relate to a filmmaker we can instead relate to his insecurity and doubt in tackling a project he loves, heck, I often question why I write about films when a Buzzfeed article regarding Iggy Azalea picking up dog poo garners thousands of views. Then I remember, as Sam Smith once said, “I do it for, I do it for the love”.
At no point do we go full mumblecore like “Frances Ha” could be described as doing, the film looks fine with no distinguishably interesting shots like those of TSATW though those could well be pinned on Anderson and Yeoman’s influences as producers. What we do get though is effective social commentary on the necessity of aggressiveness and drive to get big jobs and how as we age, almost everything becomes a personal project.
Though this film felt far too much like re-watching “Magic in the moonlight” (which in itself is hardly unique) I would definitely recommend travelling to a narrowly released showing of Baumbach’s latest. You don’t have to be an intellectual like Baumbach might want you to be to enjoy it, I promise. Ya filthy philistine.