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Noah Baumbach USA, 2014
I am far from being an unconditional fan of the prolific Noah Baumbach, but I was more than pleasantly surprised by this inventively brisk tale—broadly in the Woody Allen school—of the interrelation of couples from two different generations. Personal adventure here harbors illusion and disappointment, and friendship can so easily give way to manipulation and betrayal.
November 23, 2015
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It’s rich material for satire, initially poking equal fun at the smugness of new parents, the ostentatious liberalism of reigning hipsters, principally represented by a brilliant Adam Driver, and the desperation of their predecessors as they rage against the dying of the light. Halfway through, however, Baumbach’s world view turns oddly prescriptive, its loose-limbed social observation tethered by a snoozy inside-baseball subplot on documentary ethics.
July 26, 2015
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Baumbach mines some great jokes from his unusual take on the generation gap during the film’s first half… [However,] there’s a plot twist regarding somebody’s motives that shoves the movie in an overly cynical direction, to the point where it feels more like the kind of film Neil LaBute used to make 10 or 15 years ago—stuff like In the Company of Men and The Shape of Things. That’s not a good fit for Baumbach, who’s at his best when any bitterness is accompanied by a heavy splash of wry.
April 08, 2015
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Most richly farcical of all is an ayahuasca party where the guests get high on the sludgy Peruvian hallucinogen to the strains of Vangelis while a shaman exhorts them to “breathe in truth – breathe out ignorance” and most of those present vomit thunderously into thoughtfully provided brass vessels. It’s at this event that Cornelia kisses Jamie, but nothing much comes of it; one of the film’s strengths is that an all-too-expected recoupling of the four leads never happens.
April 02, 2015
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Baumbach had his own fling with cinematic youth—he was one of the producers of Joe Swanberg’s 2009 film “Alexander the Last,” and there’s an odd detail reflecting this connection: Darby is an artisanal ice-cream maker, as is Swanberg’s wife, Kris (who is also a filmmaker). Baumbach is similarly squeezed, generationally, between the elder colossi, whether Martin Scorsese or Terrence Malick, with their titanically inventive daring, and young independents such as Swanberg and Andrew Bujalski…
March 28, 2015
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There’s a provocative ambiguity to While We’re Young. For some it will come across as a generational jeremiad—the caustic flipside to Baumbach’s Frances Ha. Baumbach is too savvy and self-aware to not deconstruct his protagonist’s simultaneous repulsion and attraction to youth. In this way, it becomes rather difficult to discern just what is authentic both in the world of the film and in terms of the film’s discourse.
March 27, 2015
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While We’re Young offers plenty of caustic insights into contemporary bourgeois-bohemian lifestyle, plus a great deal of more ambitious philosophical inquiry, and for the most part—for the most part—Baumbach pulls it all off with lightness, delicacy, and that rare quality, joy.
March 26, 2015
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Baumbach’s self-proclaimed comedy of a marriage diverging and reconnecting is also a dramatization of a skilled screenwriter’s perpetual warring impulses between cynicism and the well-turned perceptive one-liner.
March 25, 2015
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Baumbach has made some fine pictures (Frances Ha) and some deadening, hermetic ones (Margot), but it’s While We’re Young that really fulfills the promise of his brash but fine-grained debut. These new characters, like fast- forward versions of the first ones he wrote, have woken up middle-aged without a clue how they got there. While We’re Young embraces the bittersweet truth that it’s all we’ve got. Better yet, it floats the possibility that the people we thought we’d be were overrated, anyway.
March 24, 2015
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The visual details, presented with minimal commentary, were a crucial part of the milieu of Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha. While We’re Young mines that probing mise-en-scène for explicit commentary, but the belabored screwball comedy that results lacks the verisimilitude and acute socioeconomic awareness of its predecessor.
March 23, 2015
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While We’re Young benefits as much from the buoyancy of youth as it does from the wisdom of age—even its frustratingly conventional ending is somewhat offset by the thematic heft insisted upon by the opening quote from Ibsen’s The Master Builder. Beneath the onslaught of contemporary in-jokes and one bad fedora, Baumbach manages to articulate, with a great deal of poignancy, the timeless challenge of aging and the challenge of ageing timelessly.
March 05, 2015
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When the movie is fully firing, it’s a combination of Albert Brooks, 1970s François Truffaut, late-‘80s/early-’90s Woody Allen, and a whiff of the middle-age anxiety in Philip Roth’s 1980s novels — less than the sum of those parts, but hardly the disaster such a stuffed comparison implies. This is the sort of adventure in social judgment and intergenerational anomie that fascinates few other American directors. Right now, it’s Baumbach and Nicole Holofcener doing these kinds of social essays.
September 09, 2014
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