Mar 24, 2015

REVIEW: While We're Young (dir. Baumbach)

'... There are distinct shades of Crimes and Misdemeanours here, in which Woody Allen’s forlorn documentarian had to bite his knuckles while Alan Alda’s bumptious smoothie pontificated loudly on the secret of his success (“tragedy is comedy…plus time”). You couldn’t help but wonder if Allen weren’t, in this pairing, serving up two aspects of his own character —whether the Alda character wasn’t an exaggerated version of his own success, a means of dramatising his own feelings of unworthiness and fraudulence. Baumbach is cut from the same cloth as Allen, unquestionably — the same ambivalent herringbone, cutting first this way, then that, driven by the same truth-telling instinct, close to pedantry, which propels his Eeyoreish donkey-men to soft, inevitable self-defeat.  You suspect they are half in love with it. The terminal passivity of his protagonists is not without its structural problems: his films tend to dribble to a halt, or simply fade away, like a weak handshake. Even “Frances Ha”, much praised for its infusion of nouvelle vague spirit, pooled in the same funk of self-defeat that swallowed “Greenberg” whole, with Greta Gerwig’s heroine flopping from one humiliation to the next. Absent from his work are the usual Hollywood growth curves and third-act catharses.  People do not learn from their mistakes in his films: they keep doggedly betraying themselves. But watching them do so can amount to it's own form of petulance — a lack of charity posing as an absence of illusions' 
— from my review for Intelligent Life 

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