Noah Baumbach’s White Noise delivers a stinging look at the madness of modern life with Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig
Posted by  badge Boss on Oct 08, 2022 - 05:26PM
You won’t know whether to laugh or cry when you watch this film (Picture: Netflix)

Noah Baumbach, the director of the brilliant , gets hitched: this time to Don DeLillo. The great American novelist is not known for producing books that translate to cinema, but Baumbach takes a very credible crack at White Noise, the author’s 1985 satirical stab at America.

Baumbach regular plays Jack Gladney, an academic in a Midwestern town at The-College-On-The-Hill.

He specialises in Hitler Studies, believe it or not, while his friend Murray () lectures in pop culture – everything from Hollywood car crashes to Elvis.

At home, Jack is married to Babette (). They’ve each been wed three times before, and have kids from their various unions: Denise (Raffey Cassidy), Steffie (May Nivola), and Heinrich (Sam Nivola). Their youngest, Wilder (played by twins Henry and Dean Moore), is their only biological child together.

Theirs is a rambunctious household, and Baumbach really captures the essence of this noisy, engaged, argumentative brood. But trouble lurks.

Like a twisted take on an Eighties movie mother, Babette is addicted to anti-anxiety drug Dylar, while both she and Jack are obsessed by death.

The characters have a rambunctious household (Picture: Netflix)

Worse still, when a train collides with an oil tanker outside the town, a chemical spill leads to an ominous cloud forming.

Dubbed the ‘Toxic Airborne Event’, suddenly everyone’s wearing masks (sound familiar?), panic ensues and fear spreads. Especially through the Gladney household.

Adam Driver has starred in several of the director’s films (Picture: Netflix)

No question, White Noise is a strange experience. Not least an unexpected song-and-dance number set in the film’s primary-coloured supermarket, cut to LCD Soundsystem.

It’s also hugely ambitious, with set-pieces you don’t normally associate with Baumbach’s talk-heavy movies.

Don Cheadle stars as Jack’s friend Murray (Picture: Netflix)

Yet led by Driver and Gerwig, back together after 2012’s Baumbach film Frances Ha, this is a stinging look at the madness of modern life.

Meds, pollution, anxiety, infidelity – it’s all here. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

White Noise is due to screen at the BFI London Film Festival on October 16.