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‘White Noise’ Review: Noah Baumbach’s Disaster Comedy Is Gripping and Unpleasant


What do you do to forget that you are going to die?

Perhaps you throw yourself into selfless activities, such as teaching the elderly to exercise. Maybe you find a sense of control by going to a supermarket, where glossy product lines offer endless possibilities for decision-making and distraction. Or you can intellectualize endlessly to make your brain spin in such a way that it can ignore the dark cloud on the horizon. But in White noise, the dark cloud will not lessen. Faced with its threat of doom, writer/director Noah Baumbach searches for comedy. But amid its bleakness and jarring mix of genres, his latest film stuns more than entertains.

Based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Don DeLillo, White noise stars Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig as Jack and Babbette Gladney, an upper-middle-class couple living in a bustling but seemingly happy college town. That is, until toxic events in the air.

A random twist of fate created a large dark cloud in front of their window, sending their kids into a frenzy of speculation, paranoia, and rationalization. Should the family evacuate? Will the privilege of their big house in a beautiful town protect them from disaster? Do any of their actions really matter when death is inevitable?

Noah Baumbach is steeped in horror and broad comedy in White noise.

Adam Driver drives a car.


Credit: Netflix

The cloud demonstrates an inciting incident that pushes Baumbach out of the comfort zone of the complicated play. Sure, like the heroes of his other movies (Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale, Marriage Story), the Gladneys and their friends are a bunch of talkatives who can super-intellectualize everything from rock stars to parenting and boredom. But aside from the cozy anxieties of family life, this family set foot in new terrain for Baumbach, including the vast realm of comedy and horror.

In the sequence in which the community is frantically fleeing, White noise take on a Lampoon National Holiday vibe, with Adam Driver as the confused father who falls into the irrational gambles of parenthood, such as retrieving a lost toy and racing blindly down a shortcut supposedly. Though brief, these scenes are emotional in part because they feel so unexpected from Baumbach. Even if you’re familiar with DeLillo’s novels, you might wonder what happens next, thanks to the film’s seemingly spontaneous surge. Plus, Driver, who has yet to encounter a genre he can’t enjoy, is captivating in the role of a clumsy patriarch, capturing the absurdity of these situations while laying the groundwork for comedy. Humor in the pride that makes the apocalypse possible doesn’t feel too premonition. However, Baumbach navigates into horror.

That cloud darted toward Jack, like a killer slowly approaching an unwitting co-editor. Darkness enveloped as Danny Elfman’s music grumbled with an electric sense of dread. Set in the ’80s, the film bursts with comedy, horror scenes, and plays points to the aesthetic conventions of this era. But where is Netflix? Strange things keep nostalgic for this time and its big hair and neon costumes, White noise there was a smirk at this sentimentality that day – the decade in which death enveloped itself in the form of the Cold War and the AIDS crisis, but American culture seemed relentlessly positive and obsessed with thirst. hope.

Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig make a wild couple in White noise.

Greta Gerwig and Adam Driver in


Credit: Netflix

As Jack, Driver is like a master juggler in an attempt to stop the horrors of death. For him, this consisted of balancing the endless chatter at home with his booming voice in lectures about Adolf Hitler, whom he intellectualized as a symbol of what died. The intensity that Driver brought to his brooding villain in Star Wars and his caustic comic Annette here is transformed into a bombastic lecture turned to modern dance, with Don Cheadle as his partner, enthusiastically declaring the parallel importance of Elvis Presley. Jack is a cocky king and swaggers in his domain until the cloud takes him on a challenging and self-deprecating journey of perception. Then he was a clown, and Driver fell into this downward spiral.

Meanwhile, Gerwig, a frequent leading lady and creative contributor to Baumbach, originally embodied the energy of ’80s Go, from Babette’s always-on-the-go sneakers to to her angelic, curly blond hair. But beneath her beaming smile and urgent reassurances for his wife and children, Babette trembled with an unspeakable fear. She’s a metaphor for the glossy ’80s outer shell and the terror that lies beneath the aerobic suits. White noise makes knowing her a mystery that Jack – with the help of his eldest cousin (shrewd Raffey Cassidy) – must solve.

As the film continues their dubious detective work, Gerwig’s portrait turns into darker terrain. Between quick jokes, intense philosophy, and splashy plot, she and Driver are compelling contextual partners. Why White noise Let me be cold?

White noise groping for its final action.

Don Cheadle and Adam Driver in


Credit: Netflix

There’s a lot to see in Baumbach’s White noise. The serious performance of his lead roles blends seamlessly with the outrageously daring performances of the supporting cast, which includes Sam Nivola, May Nivola, Jodie Turner-Smith and André 3000. The ramifications of home Making movies into the horror and comedy genre is very refreshing and even thrilling. The dialogue boasts not only obscene jokes but also a series of conflicting dialogues where it is not a matter of handling each line but perhaps getting caught up in the sheer power of noise. and its chaotic ideas. However, in the midst of all this conflict, chaos and dialogue, there is little flow.

Perhaps its jarring nature is the key point, never allowing the audience to comfortably dive into a comedy but end up laughing wryly at humanity’s attempt to ignore the upset about our own death. If so, congratulations Baumbach. I was mesmerized for the first half: jumping with dance scares, getting goosebumps with fear, smirking at the audacity of my intellectual ego, and even giggling at a sudden jolt of comedy. . The second half, however, lost me as it crept into a muddy path of noise and conviction that made its two-hour 19-minute run excruciatingly painful.

In the end, while I admired Baumbach’s ambition to adapt and how it propelled him to become a filmmaker, I lost patience with his execution. After a while, the change in tone is like a stutter, turning the dialogue into an onslaught of grueling lectures, the plot into a winding story, and the characters into things. more abstract than human beings in the flesh. Maybe DeLillo’s followers will be more accessible White noiseits wavelength, but in the end, I still want.

White noise Now available on Netflix.

UPDATE: December 19, 2022, 11:07 a.m. EST White Noise was reviewed outside of the 60th New York Film Festival on October 12, 2022. This review has been republished, tied to the film’s Netflix debut.

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