Title – White Noise (2022)
Director – Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
Cast – Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle
Plot – Follows the experiences of regular American couple Jack (Driver) and Babette (Gerwig) as they and their family navigate an “Airborne Toxic Event” that brings them face to face with the idea of mortality and the fragility of life.
“Out of some persistent sense of large-scale ruin, we keep inventing hope”
Review by Eddie on 08/02/2023
It’s never a good sign for a film when its best and most memorable scene comes during its end credits sequence.
Gifted an $80 million dollar budget by Netflix, who were gambling on this film to be a major win for the streaming service and more than likely a player at this year’s awards season, Noah Baumbach goes for broke with his biggest feature yet in a career that has been up to this point one full of critically adored art house efforts but sadly White Noise is a big old swing and a miss for the usually interesting director who struggles in almost all facets to bring Don DeLillo’s oft-regarded unadaptable book to life.
One of those narratives that clearly works better on the page rather than the screen, if you saw the trailer for White Noise prior to watching the full version of Baumbach’s adaptation you’d be right in thinking you were in for an end of the world type black comedy focusing on Adam Driver’s Jack and Greta Gerwig’s Babette and their families experiences in a small American town going through a potentially deadly “Airborne Toxic Event” that turns their routine lives upside down, forcing them to confront headfirst their ideas of mortality and the fear of death that hangs over them.
Set in the 1980’s, White Noise certainly captures the feeling and atmosphere of the time and if there was any way that Netflix’s expensive product feels like the sum of its monetary cost it’s in this area with everything else feeling very much like a typical Baumbach feature without the wit, verve and likable characters his been able to bring to life in notable efforts such as The Squid and the Whale and the much better and worthwhile Netflix collaborations The Meyerowitz Stories and Marriage Story that showcased the best of the writer/director, which makes White Noise even more disappointing when you look back and consider just how lost and disjointed this venture feels.
All the elements seemingly where aligned for Baumbach to make things work on screen once more and there are sure to be fans of DeLillo’s book that find this screen version to be a success, with much of the books dialogue and key sequences in tact here as far as I am aware but even his long-term collaborator Adam Driver can’t do much here, while Baumbach’s muse and real-life partner Greta Gerwig feels miscast as the complicated Babette and whereas Baumbach’s talent rich ensembles are usually shining lights, here in White Noise a collection of talented performers which includes Don Cheadle, Bill Camp and Jodie Turner-Smith can’t make the films complicated and misleading plot work.
Sure to frustrate many a viewer who has been led to believe White Noise is something that it most definitely is not, this high-reaching exercise much rank as Baumbach’s biggest misstep yet and another unfortunate failure of Netflix’s awards pitches that includes the underappreciated Bardo and the disappointment’s that were The Pale Blue Eye, The Good Nurse and The Wonder.
Final Say –
No one could argue that White Noise isn’t an ambitious film in its peculiar way but this dialogue heavy and narratively disjointed feature is a major failure from Baumbach who has seemingly lost sight of what makes his films so watchable with a big budget and a canvas of someone else’s materials at his disposal.
1 excited group of supermarket shoppers out of 5
I think I liked its oddness more than yourself but I can’t deny it’s absolutely all over the shop – but that final scene/sequence is very good.
Hype, at the moment, is very odd though. That’s probably something people aren’t talking about enough. And we can both look at Glass Onion for the same reasons, as in it’s good but masterpiece? Nooo.
Totally mate. The Glass Onion hype that arrived last month was insane, I was worried it was going to be showered with Oscar nominations tbh.
I did have fun, but yeah – that’s the level!
I don’t think it deserves even one couch point. It’s one of the most pretentious, boring and poorly scripted films I’ve seen. Notwithstanding the good performances this is an incoherent mess that after a couple of weeks has faded from my memory. As you said, people should not be fooled into thinking that it’s an apocalyptic disaster trope. It’s not and will waste a few hours of your life. However, I can thank Netflix for one thing, you can fast forward.
I can’t disagree too much at all with your points mate. This was such a massive letdown. I certainly struggled to make it through to the end credits which as stated were far more enjoyable than the rest of the film before it.
I want to read the book next. Like a Wes Anderson movie, I am that eccentric when it comes to movies.
I have a feeling the book would be far more enjoyable than the movie tbh.