While We’re Young: Putting Our Culture’s Quirks on Display
“Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be 21 again!”
How many times have you heard a middle-aged person or senior say something along these lines? To them, 21 might elicit memories of spinning in a poodle skirt, rocking out at Woodstock or rocking a perm. But with the incredible technological and social advances in the past couple decades, the youth of today do things a bit differently. The only world they know is one where every picture is a selfie, where dating can be done without ever meeting face-to-face, and where even books are electronic. But who would have thought that those same perm-wearing, head-banging kids would be the ones having to learn to use these new-fangled technologies at the age of 45? This concept of a changing culture is one that While We’re Young explores masterfully.
While We’re Young is a dramedy that centers around the lives of 40-something childless couple Josh, a documentary director and Cornelia, a documentary producer. Although the pair isn’t weighted down by the responsibility of having children or typical 9-5 careers, the burden of Josh’s 8-year-long work-in-progress documentary prevents them from truly taking advantage of the “freedom” they have. But when Josh and Cornelia meet Jamie and Darby, a young, quirky couple who share their passion for documentary-making, their monotonous lives are kick-started and they’re reminded of what it means to be young.
The first half of the movie was a lot of fun. Watching Josh and Cornelia go from a beat-down couple losing touch with their friends – who were suddenly having children and moving on with their lives – to an invigorated, renewed set of human beings was inspiring. Seeing Ben Stiller become hipster-fied due to Jamie’s influence was pretty hilarious, and watching Darby surprise Cornelia with hip-hop classes was incredibly entertaining as well. The second half of the movie, however, took a huge turn. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that you’ll probably drastically change how you feel about a few of the characters by the end of the movie! Director Noah Baumbach did a great job with the twist; it’s intriguing enough to keep the audience captivated, but not so absurd that it ruins the realism.
I really, really enjoyed the casting in this movie. Ben Stiller was fantastic as failing documentarian Josh and Naomi Watts played his wife Cornelia very well. I have come to love Adam Driver’s stark persona and I think he was perfect for the role of Jamie, and Amanda Seyfried did a great job as the lighthearted but assertive Darby. They even got Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys to play Fletcher, a middle-aged, newborn baby-clad friend of Josh! I have no complaints.
The film’s ability to ironically juxtapose the new-school, technology-based lives of Josh and Cornelia with Jamie and Darby’s minimalist way of life littered with paraphernalia from decades preceding their time was very clever. Scenes of 40-somethings watching Netflix on their iPads or texting around the dinner table cut with ones of 25-year-olds writing on typewriters and playing board games to keep busy reminded the audience of an idea that isn’t exactly original – that young people are always trying to act older, and older people are always trying to act, and subsequently feel, younger. Although it isn’t an original idea, it’s executed in a compelling way, so I have to give Baumbach props.
Overall, this movie was very funny. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments (especially at the Ayahuasca ceremony – don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was either until I saw the movie. But you won’t be disappointed), and a lot of whimsical, charming throwbacks as well. It was cute. If you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy laced with nostalgia, humour and a few painfully awkward moments, finished with some more thoughtful tones, I’d highly recommend this film.
You can find While We’re Young on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from June 23th to July 30th, 2015.
Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor
Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.