Oscar-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach has a particular talent for tapping into modern fears. His previous film with Adam driver, history of marriage, chronicles the agonizing last breaths of an untenable marriage. His new movie White noise is a darkly comedic take on a troubled world preoccupied with death, numbing its fears with medication, comfort from grocery shopping, and whatever else would ease the acute pain of living in, well, white noise.
The Netflix movie White noiseadapted from Don Delillo‘s 1985 novel follows top-flight college professor Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) whose absurd course on “advanced Nazism” is a hit with students – his success at the academy balms middle age and a creeping awareness of death. After all, all the evidence points to a possible demise: his thinning hair, his big belly and his wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) forgetfulness, possibly a symptom of early dementia or the effects of mysterious pills she’s taking. Their intelligent children are obsessed with footage of plane crashes on the television news and indulging in what we would now call doom scrolling.
Nothing a mindless, blissful trip to the grocery store can’t cure until actual disaster strikes. A drunk truck driver loaded with gasoline crashes into a train full of highly toxic chemicals, leading to an “air poisoning incident” that forces the Gladneys to join an endless line of cars in a mass evacuation.
Jack Gladney, for all his scientific extravagance, finds himself hopelessly inept in what is actually a life-threatening situation, trying in vain to find the exact words: is the toxic cloud “feather-light” or “surging”? All of their disasters failed to prepare the Gladneys for the real threat of death.
When and where will white noise be released?
White noise will be released in select theaters on November 25, 2022 before releasing to stream on Netflix on December 30.
Finally a release date for White noise is something of a triumph considering filmmakers have been trying to adapt the notoriously “unfilmable” novel for decades. Addams family director Barry Sonnenfeld option the rights White noise back in 1999. When the project failed, hamlet director Michael Almereyda carried the torch Uri Singer acquired the rights to the DeLillo novel.
In an interview with Variety, Baumbach says that the novel’s reputation for being non-adaptable made him stop thinking.
“This is the first film I’ve made from a book, so I decided to do a Doozy. From my point of view, that feels to me like the world is doing right now. It’s a way for me to express how I’m feeling in the world right now. It felt like a gift at the time.”
Is there a trailer for White Noise?
“Life is good, Jack. As long as the kids are here, we’re safe,” Babette says to her husband Jack. But the Gladneys are far from safe now. A toxic black cloud literally hangs over them, a man-made environmental disaster triggering a mass exodus from their small university town where Jack reigned as their favorite professor.
Now the Gladneys are stuck in endless traffic, just one of hundreds of cars and families fleeing the life-threatening airborne toxic event. The Gladney children peer out their car window to watch other families in adjacent cars react to the mass evacuation. “They don’t look scared in the Crown Victoria,” says one child. “Yes, they laugh,” says another. Only to be contradicted by another: “These guys don’t laugh in Country Squire.”
When an angry Jack asks, “What does it matter what they do in other cars,” his daughter says, “I want to know how scared I should be.”
The question best captures the fears and concerns that are so understandable these days. How scared should we be? From Covid, climate change, job insecurity, aging and of course death? “May the days be aimless. Let the seasons drift. Don’t move the action forward according to a plan,” Gladney says in the teaser, which shows the Gladneys trying to achieve normalcy amid a disaster.
Who is in the cast of White Noise?
Praised by Martin Scorsese as “one of the best, if not the best, actors of his generation,” Adam Driver transforms for White noise, in which he sports a big belly and receding hairline to play Jack Gladney, an electrifying professor who absurdly teaches Hitler Studies to his worshiping students at the fictional College-on-the-Hill. Jack’s scientific skills will prove worthless when a real catastrophe strikes and the life-threatening situation calls for an action hero rather than a slightly wacky but brilliant professor.
Jack’s wife, Babette, is played by Greta Gerwig, a loving but neurotic mother who has symptoms of early dementia and is addicted to a mysterious drug called Dylar, which she claims are Cherry LifeSavers. Babette is a health teacher who teaches parishioners posture and is obsessed with death herself. At home, she and Jack talk about who will die first and who will be the most heartbroken.
Her four children (three from previous marriages) are also fascinated by death and rush to catch the TV news about a plane crash. Sam Nivola plays analytical teenager Heinrich. May Nivola plays the sensitive younger daughter Steffie. Raffey Cassidy plays the inquisitive Denise, the keenest observer of her mother’s neurotic behavior. Twins Henry and Dean Moore play the youngest son Wilder.
Jack’s colleague Murray Siskind, played by an unforgettable Don Cheadle, teaches a class in pop culture iconography and hopes to do for Elvis what Jack did for Hitler. In one big, standout set piece, the two men give an electrifying joint lecture about Hitler and Elvis.
Who is the creative team behind White Noise?
Writer-director Noah Baumbach brings the oversized ideas and performances together, even adding a glorious dance sequence in a supermarket to the already large set pieces – a scene critics invariably hailed as a must-see. White noise is the third film for Netflix after Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories and history of marriage both with Adam Driver.
Baumbach, David Heyman, Uri Singer are the producers of the film. Oscar-nominated composer Danny Elfman is responsible for the film music and LCD sound system recorded a new original song for the film entitled “New Body Rhumba”. Providing the cinematography for the film is Lol Crawley belonging to their credits The devil all the time and The human. Matthew Hannam serves as the film’s editor, having previously worked on films such as wildlife, Swiss army manand Enemy. Jess Gonchor is the production designer behind the film, he was previously nominated for his work at Oscars True grit and Hail, Caesar!.
What is “White Noise” about?
The official synopsis reads:
Simultaneously hilarious and chilling, lyrical and absurd, ordinary and apocalyptic, White Noise dramatizes a contemporary American family’s attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness rolled into one uncertain grapples world.