While We’re Young

Intentionally or otherwise, Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young plays like a sequel to 2010's Greenberg in which middle-aged Ben Stiller was both befuddled by and attracted to game-for-anything millennials like Greta Gerwig. In Baumbach’s nouvelle vague-inspired follow-up, 2012's Frances Ha, cowriter Gerwig took the lead as a 27-year-old dancer at a crossroads in her life. It was a deeply sympathetic piece of work—and his best film. If the new one doesn’t hit the same heights, it’s acutely perceptive and painfully funny. This time, Stiller’s Josh isn’t a single sadsack, but a married sadsack. His career as a documentarian is stuck in neutral, his friends (including a very good Adam Horovitz as a Wilco fan with back problems) are having babies, his father-in-law (Charles Grodin, a minimalist par excellence) makes him feel like a failure, and he and his wife, Cornelia (Naomi Watts, an underrated comic actress), are bored. Then they meet Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a couple in their 20s who listen to bad '80s records, watch beat-up VHS tapes, and make all their own stuff. Josh and Cornelia come alive again in their presence. Once Josh segues from besotted mentor to hectoring detective, the film threatens to go off the rails until Baumbach restores equilibrium by ending on the same funny-sad grace note with which he began.


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