While We're Young

While We're Young ★★★

Perhaps I'm alone in finding the first half only mildly funny, and actually liking the second half quite a bit (minus the ending, I guess). Sure, the initial bits are entertaining enough, but the generational-gap humor quickly grows stale, drawing on broad humor that isn't quite as witty or surprising as one would expect from Baumbach. The amusement factor quickly diminishes, culminating in that interminable shaman scene. After that however, the film actually finds its footing, digging into the desperation and pathos of Josh and Cornelia in conventional, if also richly drawn ways, which is all the more surprising given that the film that surrounds them is pretty thin. Three scenes in particular really stand out: Josh's meeting with his father-in-law to get notes on his (six-and-a-half hour!) documentary, Josh and Cornelia's conversation with Marina and Fletcher outside the party, and the conversation between Cornelia and Josh outside the memorial party. None of these scenes are particularly funny, but they explore the film's core ideas in ways that are not at all cheap and are in fact pretty moving. (The fact that Cornelia and Josh can't have children is a point that comes up frequently, and actually becomes one of the strongest points of the narrative.)

Not hard to see why the cynical climax (and the scenes leading up to it) would put a lot of people off, but to me, it actually comes together far better than the uneven first. It's telling that the purported climax and Josh's big reveals is pretty much shrugged off by everyone involved (save Josh), which of course only feeds into Josh's feeling of being pushed aside, of having the "young" ones take what's supposed to be his and pervert it. Its ultimate insignificance is what's important. All in all, not exactly one of Baumbach's better efforts, but it's almost intentional given the broad strokes that most of the characters are drawn with (though Driver does the most with what he's given). Also could have done without the actual ending (kind of wished the film had ended with Josh and Cornelia sitting outside the memorial, since that scene already provided enough of a visual rhyme), but I guess it wouldn't do to go without the "not evil... just young" line. To borrow from Bernard in The Squid and the Whale, this is pretty much "minor Baumbach."

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