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by Michael Chasin


You shockingly discover—there’s a generation younger than you—and you’re no longer cool.

This life marker is the subject of writer/director Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young.

Josh (Ben Stiller) is a fortyish documentary filmmaker laboring so long on the same film—that it unintentionally captures his own aging.

He and his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) affirm their spontaneity—then schedule it.

Twenty-somethings Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried)—bohemians—or maybe not—enter and quickly rejuvenate Ben and Cornelia’s lives.

Josh notes—somehow everything I did seems cool now that Jamie is doing it.

While keenly observing caught-by-surprise-aging, the spine of the film involves documentary filmmaking, its ethics, career climbing—and if they are all mutually exclusive.

While We’re Young strongly evokes:

  • 1989’s Crimes and Misdemeanors—where Woody Allen was the suffering documentarian to his sitcom producing ex-brother-in-law Alan Alda—Ben Stiller and Charles Grodin respectively
  • 1987’s Broadcast News—where William Hurt was the news reporter who staged news
  • Also include 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer that opened with Vivaldi’s Concerto in C major—that’s used to cover a montage in While We’re Young

As forty-something Mr. Baumbach came of age in the 1980s—these homages may not be surprising—and in fact, may be the point of the film.

What was seen in youth—revisited as an adult—gains new perspective and relevance.

No longer being young means accepting disappointment—and pragmatism.

And maybe being cool—is best left behind, for the young.






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