Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver
Director: Noah Baumbach
Running Time: 97 mins
While We’re Young is an American film about a middle-aged couple who meet a young, hip couple, and become fascinated by their lifestyle.
This is a very interesting film. With the ultimate hipster-ish indy vibe, it’s very cool in the way that it goes about its subject, that is generational conflict, and features some good laughs too. While We’re Young is a well-directed, strongly-acted and very well-written drama that I was intrigued by from start to finish.
Let’s start with the performances here. Ben Stiller, in the lead role as a documentary filmmaker who becomes fascinated by a man who represents an effectively younger version of himself, is really good. This may be a comedy-drama, but as far as Ben Stiller roles go, this is easily the deepest, calmest and most impressive one he’s given, which was great to see.
Meanwhile, Naomi Watts, playing Stiller’s wife, is great too. Whilst it’s a little disappointing to see that her character isn’t really as fleshed out in the latter stages of the film when Stiller’s character becomes the main focus, Watts does a very good job at showing this woman’s desire to break loose from the chains of her middle American life. Also, rather oddly considering what I just said about Stiller, this is one of Naomi Watts’ more comedic roles. Of course, the main crux of the performance is dramatic, but Watts is generally the funniest part of the whole movie, particularly in that one brilliant hip-hop scene, and it’s nice to see that she, a typically more dramatic actress, can work very well when taking a lighter approach to some roles.
The rest of the film matches the dynamic of the lead performances. It’s a brilliant and subtle mix of social comedy and drama, done in such a way that this doesn’t feel at all like an American film. While We’re Young actually feels a lot like a Scandinavian sort of family drama: one injected with hints of comedy, and still very free-thinking in the way that it goes about its dramatic story, a testament to the originality of director Noah Baumbach.
The story is impressive too. Despite not invigorating me on an emotional level in the latter stages where it would have done some good, I was really intrigued by the way that this film details generational conflicts. Weirdly, it comes across as presenting an anti-anti-anti-modern life message. It looks at the good points of the young hipster generation, but then also their exposes the flaws and hypocrisies, whilst also criticising, and simultaneously commending the philosophies of the older generation, and the current middle generation.
Basically, this film has a lot to say, and although it doesn’t always do it in the most amazing way, I’m sure that with numerous rewatches, you’ll be able to peel back all of the layers that are hidden in and around here, so overall, I’m giving While We’re Young a 7.6.