Just a few days ago I was discussing, with associates of mine, the possible correlation of maturity levels and fashionable hat wearing. Not in an abstract way, but in relation to the hat-wearing (and discarding) of friends and associates. In Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, the fashionable hat becomes one of many symbols relating to life decisions and one’s relationship to the Self. It was a little bit spooky. For a great many people the film will be filled with such astonishingly direct reflections of their own lives. Perhaps it is only astonishing because Western commercial cinema so rarely bothers or dares to come down to the streets and hang with the ‘real’ world. But While We’re Young stretches beyond the confines of both the rom-com and the mid-life crisis film, refusing to merely be enjoyable and relatable (that newly toxic term). It is hilarious, engaging and an absolute pleasure to watch, but it is far more than that. Writer/director Noah Baumbach beautifully weaves the everyday lives of his characters into a complicated and engaging contemplation of what constitutes truth, reality and experience that can easily be described as academic, for those so inclined. Please forget old prejudices against such a term, for critical theory is rarely utilised with such delicate aplomb, fused to the organic development of characters so that all of its parts feel necessary and absolutely right.
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