Taking a break from the ever-increasing diminishing returns the likes of The Watch and Night at the Snoozeum bring, it’s pleasing to see Ben Stiller once more team up with Greenberg director Noah Baumbach for more introspective middle-aged musing. Can the pair fuse this meta tale of film-making into something that might turn Woody Allen into a green-eyed monster or does While We’re Young feel a touch out-of-date itself?
Content but not truly happy with their lives, Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) have left their youthful ways behind without ever really embracing the joys parenting and middle age can bring. So when they meet the energetic and charismatic Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) they clutch at the chance to embrace a familiar but also new way of life.
So what starts out as an enjoyable and slightly refreshing take on many a fortysomething tale actually turns out to be something unusually different thanks to a third act twist that overshadows what could have been quite a breezy and light-hearted comedy.
As usual, and as in Greenberg, Stiller anchors the film with a sympathetic and warm performance as the gentle Josh, eager to please but unsure what it takes to please himself maybe. Come the rather too-neatly-wrapped ending though it’s clear what makes him tick. And while Seyfried and Watts feel a little under-developed – Baumback taking a more male-orientated focus after the feminine delights of Frances Ha – it’s a shame the former particularly doesn’t get given more to do.
Thankfully Adam Driver’s Jamie manages to more than hold his own as sympathies shift and motives are revealed, making this an always engaging watch, even if it never quite matches the gag rate or depth of Stiller/Baumbach’s previous collaboration.
Still, it’s one to watch while you’re young enough to appreciate what getting older will leave you hankering after.