While We’re Young is a wonderfully warped tale of an opportunist taking advantage of an older, one-time wonder boy. The focus is five characters. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are Josh and Cornelia, an early 40s couple that chose not to have children. He’s an insecure filmmaker who once filmed a critically acclaimed documentary. Years later, a second effort is not coming together.
She creates documentaries with Leslie, her famous producer father. He’s played by Charles Grodin, who is always nice to see. Leslie and Josh butt heads regularly over movie-making and the marriage.
Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried play free-spirited couple Jamie and Darby. He’s a fledgling filmmaker who idolizes Stiller and greatly admires his film. Jamie wants his input on a documentary he’s doing.
While We’re Young is written and directed by Noah Baumbach. His movies are always deep. They’re also often fun in an ironic sort of way. This one is both. Baumbach — who wrote and directed The Squid and the Whale, Francis Ha and Greenberg and co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou — has a blast with these characters and their story.
Driver’s Jamie drives the movie and a deep and delicious delving into growing older and how — as we approach middle age — some of us tend to abandon life’s dreams. He shined in last year’s comedy This is Where I Leave You, and is wonderfully charming, rascally and duplicitous in this one.
Jamie is impossible not to like but equally impossible to trust. Is he a scammer? A savior? Both?
Stiller’s Josh and Watts’ Cornelia are starving for the life-changing energy of the young couple. They are transformed and energized. But will it last? Can it last? Is it really right for them?
This is the perfect vehicle for Stiller, who has perfected the pathetic, whining, in-crisis character, and for the supportive, low-key Watts. Their performances are not surprising or particularly impressive but are what the plot requires.
This is a tale that twists and turns in ways that only Baumbach can envision and do. It’s fun stuff, and is one of the best films to hit the Tri-Cities this year.