Is This 40?
Noah Baumbach's take on middle-aged transcendence boasts a strong turn from Ben Stiller but still remains a soured variation on Apatow's more hopeful predecessor.Painting an engaging tale of a forty-something couple's desperate 11th hour attempt to reclaim their youth, While We're Young sees Stiller and partner-in-crime Naomi Watts drawn into the enticingly free world of twenty something kids-in-love Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Disowning their old friends - who all have kids - and partaking in all the activities they felt they were too old for, it's not long before the couple realise that this life is not for them. The initial premise - whilst not exactly original - is rich for mining, but Baumbach is less intent on entertaining and more on revealing the cracks in the lives of these characters. Playing notes which will strike a chord with many, he also dangerously tinkers with expectations in a bid to desperately avoid closure. It's a bold move, which will elicit a sense of familiarity in the past of many approaching this age, but it too intently avoids any sense of endearment.Eschewing direct comic intent in favour of witty voyeurism, as the out-of-place adults roam free in a universe not made for them, the laughs get thinner and thinner as the plot and characters become darker and more cynical. The writer behind two of Wes Anderson's best movies, The Life Aquatic and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, appears too intent on capturing bleak reality; too intent on avoiding Hollywood sentimentality; and too intent on remaining unpredictable. In such a bid to be so utterly naturally honest to life, the film often ends up feeling unnaturally contrived, only in the opposite direction to most. The result may spark the heart of the more cynical (*cough* realist) - those who found Apatow's This Is 40 just that little bit too sugar-coated - but it remains a slightly hollow trip otherwise, with only fleeting moments of comic uncertainty and intermittent performance-based draw.
Picture QualityWhile We’re Young hits UK shores complete with a Region-B locked Blu-ray courtesy of Icon who deliver the film with a largely impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
There’s nothing wrong with While We’re Young’s video presentation, even if it doesn’t stand out as a top tier effort either.
Detail remains strong throughout, with allowances obviously made for the slightly different style of the in-movie documentary segments, and characters are showcased with excellent close-ups and facial clarity. Nevertheless, the photography favours an almost washed-out colour scheme which eschews vibrant primaries and vivid tones in favour of browns, beiges and creams, offering little to pop within the film. Black levels are reasonably strong, and there are no overt digital defects, leaving this a hard-to-fault presentation, technically, but one which you’re still unlikely to use to show off your equipment with.
The same can be argued with the audio track, which is a perfectly serviceable effort but is never going to win any presentation awards.
Promoted with a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, all of the bases are certainly covered, with clear and coherent presentation of the dialogue across the front and centre channels; atmospheric balancing of the effects across the surrounds in order to craft engaging crowd scenes, dance classes and street parties; and a decent enough score to offer backup to the rest of the elements, and give the surrounds and even the LFE something further to keep themselves busy with. It ticks all the boxes, and often does a mighty fine job of it, but inherent content restrictions and a simple lack of noteworthy precision or standout potency leaves this a faithful, solid presentation that was never going to quite make it into demo ranks.
ExtrasA quintet of featurettes round out the disc, each being only a couple of minutes long and totalling little over 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes material.
Fans of Baumbach will likely lap up his latest effort, reuniting him with Stiller for another career highlight.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray boasts solid video and audio and a smattering of extras - enough to make it a decent purchase for fans of the film, or indeed the director's larger body of work. Those who haven't yet experienced either should test the waters first with a rental. While We're Young has received plenty of rave reviews, and comic sensibilities are fickle at best, so it will likely end up being a personal choice.
You can buy While We're Young on Blu-ray here
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