While We're Young ★★★★½

Perhaps Noah Baumbach's finest yet. The plot-heavy second half doesn't quite live up to the impeccably-observed first, but as a complete package this is still a remarkable film. What I appreciate most was how it's directly funny in a way Baumbach has never before been: the parallels between the Stiller/Watts couple and the younger Driver/Seyfried prompt genuine guffaws, as sharply observed as anything in any of Noah's films. The characters here are rich and Baumbach mines them thoroughly for humour, getting inside their minds, examining exactly what it means to be a twentysomething hipster or a fortysomething who's past their prime. But it's never navel-gazing - it's always in the name of a wry or witty observation, and the film continuously and simultaneously acknowledges the inherent insignificance of such psychoanalytical pursuits. It's genius, meta stuff, that works on multiple levels. As plot developments come deeper into play, the funny character work inevitably takes a back seat, but it's still compelling stuff, and Baumbach chooses a surprising route to the third-act conclusion.

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