Noah Baumbach movies are prickly. Characters in films like “The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding,” “Greenberg” get under the each other”s skins, even with the best intentions. “Frances Ha” offered the writer-director a more “likable” lead, but even Greta Gerwig”s wayward millenial whittled her friends and family down to their most caustic cores. This is not a grievance – the world is prickly. Baumbach picks up on it. In the trailer for is new film, “While We”re Young,” the filmmaker again dredges up a grey-shaded ensemble and weaponizes for uncomfortable laughs.
In the film, Ben Stiller stars as Josh, a documentary filmmaker stuck in a 10-year fine-tuning session. Life outside the editing room is swirling chaos, his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) and father-in-law (Charles Grodin) also in the doc business, also up in his business. There are questions on the table – will the couple ever settle down? Start a family? Life is interrupted when Josh and Cornelia befriend Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), the quintessential twenty-something hipster couple. “It's like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it,” Cornelia says in the trailer. Jamie and Darby energize the older couple”s life, for better or worse. It”s there Baumbach raises questions, pokes his nose into cultural identities, and mines comedy.
“While We”re Young” debuted at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival before making a surprise bow at the 2014 New York Film Festival (thanks to the documentary throughline, part of the movie actually takes place at last year”s NYFF). Our own Drew McWeeny praised the film out of TIFF, calling it “handsome” and “focused.” Drew praised the ensemble, highlighting Stiller”s success and on-going collaboration with Baumbach (he starred in “Greenberg”). “Stiller can somehow be both embarrassing and sympathetic at the same time, cringe-worthy but in a way that is sort of heart-breaking,” he writes.
For the prestige surrounding Baumbach”s work, the writer-director has not seen much love awards wise. “The Squid and the Whale” earned Baumbach a Best Original Screenplay nomination and Best Director/Best Screenplay Independent Spirit nominations. “Frances Ha” saw a Best Feature Indie Spirit nom in 2012.
A24 will release “While We”re Young” on March 27, 2015