While We're Young: NZFF Review
Achieving the broadest of reaches and never losing sight of being entertaining, Noah Baumbach's While We're Young delivers a pitch perfect comedy to alleviate the soul as the New Zealand International Film Festival continues.
Ben Stiller plays Josh. a documentary maker stuck in his latest project; his wife is Cornelia (Naomi Watts, channeling some warm comedic schtick) a fellow producer. Worries over whether the pair is in a rut are pushed to one side, when Josh meets Adam Driver's Jamie, a 25-year-old version of himself, but more in touch with his hipper side.
Energised by Jamie's interest (along with his wife, played by Amanda Seyfried), Josh sets out to complete his documentary and re-discover his, and his wife's joie de vivre.
While We're Young is wistful, wry, warmly comic fare as it lays down some realities about how we truly are in life and what steps we take when we get older.
Brilliantly juxtaposing the attitudes of Josh and Cornelia ("We have the freedom to do what we want; what we do with it is not important" being one of their earlier bon mots) to their younger counterparts proves to be the film's masterstroke as a light script is breezily delivered by the cast.
But there's a grain of truth that will be entirely resonant with others in this drily laconic movie; it's a film where the younger embrace vinyl and reading, but the older struggle with digital technology all around them; where retro is cool, but the future is baffling.
And yet, in among the light banter, is a man on the edge of a crisis,a relationship on a brink and a smart savvy take on how priorities and viewpoints change as life goes on. It's humour mixed with life's experiences, good and bad - and Baumbach delivers it in spades.
Granted, there will be some who will find the film's themes trite, but there will be an equal - if not larger - amount who will find it cutting a little close to the bone. If you let it, While We're Young emerges as something touching and sensitive to time's passing - it doesn't harm it in the slightest that it's well-performed, well-written and deeply engaging as it doles out its message about life.