By William Wolf


It is easy to grow impatient with people in their forties who feel their lives have passed them by, given the countless stories of productive people leading rich lives in later years. Such is the case in writer-director Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young,” shown at the 2014 Toronto international Film Festival.

Ben Stiller as Josh and Naomi Watts as his wife Cornelia are stimulated by a younger couple whom they meet. Josh, who has made documentaries and for years has been working on one that is not yet completed, teaches a class in New York, and Adam Driver as Jamie , along with Darby, played by Amanda Seyfried, approach Josh after a class. Jamie starts by being enamored of Josh’s work, which leads to a friendship.

Josh makes the mistake of encouraging his admirer—why we will learn as Jamie becomes a conniving usurper. Worse, deluding themselves into thinking that the lifestyle and attitudes of the younger folk can be an inspiration in their own lives leads Josh and Cornelia down a misbegotten path.

Baumbach strives for comedy as the older couple tries to get into the life seen as so hip with amusing, frustrating results. But nothing really is funny enough. The film gets a lift from the performance by Charles Grodin as Josh’s father-in-law, himself being honored for his place in the film world. In an embarrassing scene, Josh makes a fool of himself. One good moment occurs with an acerbic comment expertly delivered by Grodin in an observation that Josh’s six- hour film is seven hours too long.

Although the initial set-up holds interest and there is some “in” movie stuff that may appeal to film buffs, as the comedy-drama moves along one can grow tired of it. Despite the solid performances by all concerned, and even given my special liking for Watts and Grodin, I found myself eager for the movie to end. Reviewed October 5, 2014.


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