- I Origins – Mike Cahill, USA, 2014, 106 minutes
- While We’re Young – Noah Baumbach, USA, 2014, 97 minutes
I Origins has gathered more mixed reviews than any other film that I’ve recommended, I think, and I understand why it divides opinion—here is a movie that tries really hard, no doubt too hard, to come up with a plot you haven’t seen before. Its middle third is easily its strongest, as the film narrowly survives the schmoopiness of its initial meet-cute, before taking some truly unexpected turns on its way to a Shyamalanesque finish. Yet, as another earnest mashup of sci-fi, spiritual philosophy, and romantic melodrama, it has a lot of the fine qualities of Mike Cahill’s preceding—more artistically and financially successful—Another Earth, including another excellent performance by Brit Marling. This is worth a look if originality is what you specifically crave.
I haven’t really been on the Noam Baumbach wagon from the beginning—I personally can’t make it far enough across the generational divide to fully appreciate Frances Ha, and I guess I’m not alone in that—but While We’re Young pleases me in every way. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are fully on target as a fortysomething couple whose childless way of life leaves them alienated from their contemporaries and alternately romanticizing and mistrusting their new millennial friends—Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, perfectly cast. Being actually funny is the hardest thing for a comedy to do. Here is one that makes it look easy.