While We're Young

Directed By: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin, Adam Horovitz, and Maria Dizzia

I've still got a few good years left in my twenties, but I do realize that time is ticking away.  Thankfully, I'm not at the beginning of some long monologue about getting older.  I am, however, at the beginning of a rather interesting realization about how the generational gap widens with each passing generation.  We live longer than ever before.  Our technology evolves at a more rapid pace with each passing day.  The way in which we communicate evolves at an even more rapid pace.  Today, the generational divide is more like a gaping chasm.  I could spend a series of posts backing up my point, but all I need is one simple fact.  I personally know an elderly individual who remembers riding in carriages back in the day.  Enough said.  All that being said, there is an elegant counter-argument to my point in this weekend's While We're Young from director Noah Baumbach.

Documentary filmmaker Josh (Ben Stiller) and producer Cornelia (Naomi Watts) have built a good life together.  That doesn't mean that things couldn't be better.  After years of marriage, they still don't have a kid, and their friends Fletcher (Adam Horovitz) and Marina (Maria Dizzia) remind them of it every single day.  Even without a kid, the spontaneity that marked their early years together is long gone.  The signs are everywhere.  It certainly doesn't help that Josh has been working on the same documentary for more than ten years now and refuses to take the help of his father-in-law, esteemed documentary filmmaker Leslie Breitbart (Charles Grodin).  When twenty-something couple Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) enter their world, a spark of spontaneity finds its way back into their marriage.

Having been away from the big screen since Frances Ha, director Noah Baumbach quickly finds his comedic groove in While We're Young.  Throughout the film he eloquently illustrates the position that each generation is from a different planet and speaks an entirely different language.  For Baumbach, however, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The challenges of aging, parenthood, and connecting with people of different generations remain the same over time.  You can see it play out in hilarious fashion time and time again in the movie as Josh and Cornelia continuously find themselves out of their comfort zones with curious infants, spontaneous twenty-somethings, and even some their own age at different phases in their lives.  Thematically, While We're Young is a mixed bag of humorous goodies revolving around life and how to live it to the best of one's ability regardless of age and regardless of that generational divide.

Baumbach's well-rounded cast is firing on all cylinders throughout While We're Young.  For his part as Josh, Ben Stiller offers a purist in every sense of the word.  Stiller's character is all about the process and getting to the truth.  With all his attempts at demonstrating a youthful zeal, however, the one truth to which he's having trouble getting is the fact that he's aging.  Offering his signature brand of dry humor, Stiller finds his first true comedic groove in quite a while.  The same can be said for his co-star Naomi Watts in her turn as his wife Cornelia.   Struggling with her infertility, Watts's Cornelia is not satisfied with the hand life has dealt her and wishes she could turn the clock back to do things all over again with Josh.  At the same time, she's not one to let motherhood, or the absence of it, define her life.  Watts illustrates this best by showing a few moves on the dance floor.

Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried deliver the goods as the younger couple as well.  For his part as Jamie, Adam Driver is a man driven by success.  He doesn't care about the process.  He cares solely about the end result, not the manner in which he arrives at it.  Emblematic of the allegedly self-entitled Millennial, Driver gives us one slippery character whose charm masks his ego at first glance.  For her part as Darby, Seyfried offers an effervescent butterfly at first who makes ice cream and does all sorts of cute do-it-yourself projects.  As Seyfried gradually peels the layers of her character back throughout the movie, this bubbly spirit fades and is replaced by a melancholic young woman whose expectations for life have come crashing down to reality.  It's a captivating performance that shines tall in the movie.

Though I'm much closer to Jamie and Darby in age, I get the message Noah Baumbach amusingly delivers in While We’re Young.  Baumbach gives us all a not-so-subtle reminder that we all age the same way and that the generations that follow us will inevitably seem like foreigners.  I will get old too, and my experience won't be any different from that of the other seven billion people on the planet.  The world will continue to evolve, but aging and the generational disconnects that ensue from it will remain the same.  What’s more important is what we do with the time that is given to us.  While We're Young gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.