While We’re Young (2014)

(Video on Demand, July 2015)  It’s good to see Ben Stiller play something closer to his age, in a movie where he doesn’t have to mug for frantic attention via cringe-worthy humiliation, or competing with special effects.  Having him play an early-forties man in While We’re Young is still shaving a decade from his age, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.  It helps that this is a film about aging, and the aches and pain and nagging doubts of encroaching middle-age.  Stiller has been featured in so many broad comedies than seeing him in something more adult, more dramatic and more subtle is almost a revelation.  Here he’s paired with Naomi Watts as a childless couple suddenly confronted by the rest of their lives as their friends settle down with kids and they befriend a young hipster couple (Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver is good performances.)  While We’re Young starts as a low-key observational comedy and does a lot of mileage out of ordinary middle-age anxieties, it does veer off into something a bit stranger by the last third: By the time our protagonist races down the freeway in an attempt to uncover the world’s most trivial conspiracy, it’s hard to avoid thinking that this is not the film it started to be.  Still, the interplay between Stiller and Driver, as well as the gradual revelation of a character’s true nature, provides a lot of dramatic mileage to the film.  There’s are little bits about hipsterism, the ethics of documentary filmmaking, couple relations, making friends in your forties, drug-fueled revelations, ambition masquerading as something else.  The film is surprisingly absorbing, truthful, sadly a bit underwhelming in its conclusion, but a good time nonetheless.  I suspect that I liked it because it’s reaching me at a very particular time in my life… but that’s how it goes.

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