While We’re Young film review

While We’re Young, starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, is a light-hearted yet meaningful romp through the ages and stages of life – with a canny jab at the younger generation. 

Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Watts) are the quintessential East-side (we’re talking New York) hipster couple. Both are in their late forties and well educated. Josh makes documentaries. Cornelia is the daughter of a world-famous documentarian (Charles Grodin). Both wish they had children, yet would never admit it to themselves or one another.

Life for the two seems steady, stable yet stilted – maybe a little static. That is until they meet Jamie and Darby (played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) – a young couple in their twenties who are as cool as Josh and Cornelia remember being when they were the same age. Jamie is particularly enamoured by Josh and, as it turns out, the feeling is mutual. 

The young hipster couple are the epitome of New York retro kitsch. He is a fedora-wearing indie documentarian. She makes ice cream. They have a monster record collection, use typewriters instead of computers, and they shun social media. You know, that kind of cool you just want to throttle …

The older couple hang with the younger in an attempt to get back what they think they’ve lost. Jamie, who seemingly worships Josh, asks him to work on a project with him. Cornelia, meanwhile, is doing hip-hop dancing classes with Darby. And they all experiment with a mind-altering drug-taking ceremony in an attempt to shift their perception of life and its many meanings.

Director Noah Baumbach does a great job of both building up each generation then expertly stripping them back to their reality. The message is that plenty of blame can be thrown at the younger generation but at the end of the day, they are young. And the benefit of ageing is the experience that comes with it – along with the ability to realise that growing older means growing up – and that’s a good thing.

I enjoyed While We’re Young. It’s a light-hearted stab at the differences between generations, sure, but it carried with it a positive message for both. And I certainly tip my fedora to the director for his ability to push that message subtly, yet effectively.

Whilst it’s not going to win an Oscar, it is a most-enjoyable watch.

I rate While We’re Young a very satisfactory 7/10. Why not watch the trailer?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?
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