While We’re Young is the story of a middle-aged couple, Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts), who feel out of place amongst a sea of friends with children. Josh is a documentary filmmaker, and Cornelia is a film producer, who works for her famous father, Leslie Breitbart (Charles Grodin).
Dissatisfied with his life and frustrated with his stalled 10-year-old documentary, Josh meets a younger couple in experimental filmmaker Jaime (Adam Driver) and his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried). Josh and Cornelia quickly become close friends with Jaime and Darby as if they were younger versions of themselves. Suddenly, Josh and Cornelia are injected with a burst of energy living the lives of a younger generation.
Writer/Director Noah Baumbach tells a story about the realities of growing older. As with all good stories, events never favor the hero and age catch up to Jack and Cornelia. Jack soon become suspicious of not only Jaime’s motives for friendship, but even his closest friends, family, and wife.
Ben Stiller has found his niche as the normal man. He plays the insecure, underestimated man to perfection. In While We’re Young, he plays it exceptionally well. The difference is that instead of Josh’s life falling apart in a comedic way (e.g. Meet the Parents) but it falls apart in an insightful way. What happens to Josh is unique and atypical of Stiller’s other film.
Naomi Watts plays the perfect partner for Josh. Cornelia also has to cope with aging but also supporting her husband, while trying to cope with the loss of her dreams, like parenthood.
All around the acting is exceptional, even from the supporting Driver and Seyfried play Jaime and Darby as the ever-optimistic young hipster couple. Their youth is infectious as their playfulness slowly turns to annoying over the course of the film. Stiller’s character Josh says it best when he walks through Jaime and Darby’s apartment, seeing their vast vinyl collection. They managed to take everything they had growing up that was old and made it cool again.
While We’re Young is an excellent film about aging and recapturing our youth. Baumbach’s story and direction take us into familiar territory but in an unfamiliar way. The ending is sweet and unexpectedly expected. I know this sounds crazy, but it would be a disservice to you to give away the events of the second half.