White Noise Movie Review: Adam Driver’s Dedicated Performance Can’t Save Noah Baumbach’s Uneven Absurdist Drama (The Hamden Journal Exclusive)

White Noise Movie Review: After exploring the tumultuous toll a divorce takes on two people, Adam Driver once again teams up with Noah Baumbach to deliver an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s unfilmable novel White Noise. Focused on the paranoia of a nuclear family as an airborne event ravages a small town after a truck collides with a train and the spillage of an unknown substance takes place, White Noise is an absurdist drama that does feel relevant in its concept, but it never truly is able to capitalise on anything given its uneven nature.

Spearheaded by Driver’s brilliant performance, we follow Jack Gladney, a professor who specialises in Hitler Studies (swear I saw a Kanye lookalike in one of his classes), he manages a nuclear family while being married to Babette (Greta Gerwig), a woman with a mystery attached to her. Driver’s performance in general is what will captivate you the most as his verbose intellect makes for some impressive dialogue readings and plunges the film further into an absurdist take.

A Still From White Noise (Photo Credits: Netflix)

Focused on heavily being a family drama in its first act as Jack maintains a higher-level position at the university he is teaching at, White Noise overall sees strong performances from the majority of its cast. Gerwig in general does feel underutilised in the beginning, however, she gets to prove herself further on. Hopped up on the pill of Drylar, a mystery in its own conception, Babette is often showcased as being forgetful, and while that aura of unknowingness can make for an interesting watch, it often feels played out to the point where I just didn’t end up caring much.

Don Cheadle surprises too playing Murray Siskind, a professor who specialises in Elvis Presley. While his role is very much limited here, it was honestly a treat to see him. However, where the film does fall flat is in its execution of the absurdity that it provides. Feeling relevant somehow, it’s very unevenly laid out where a lot it doesn’t make for a compelling watch.

Watch the Trailer:

Don DeLillo’s novel for a long time was said to be unfilmable, and watching this you can definitely see the loss in the translation of mediums. Especially in the second act when the spillage takes place and an airborne event strikes, it very well paints the shades we all experienced with the paranoia in Spring of 2020, yet it just amounts to a metaphor of one coming to terms with their own death. It never really knows how to handle the placement of it, and then quickly in the third act we are back to the family drama that sees Jack find out about Babette’s infidelity.

It’s rather oddly placed that makes for a very disinteresting watch that had me tuning out a lot, which is ironic considering the film is called White Noise. It completely ends up feeling like two tales that never really attach to each other in a meaningful way and further fuels absurdity of it all that is upended by a surrealistic dance scene in its credits. While the relevance of it all, funnily enough the inclusion of Elvis Presley too considering 2022 saw ignite a huge spark of interest in him again, It just didn’t make much sense at the end of the day.

A Still From White Noise (Photo Credits: Netflix)

The films quirky tone can make for some excitement occasionally where the cinematic style of it evokes memories of symmetry found in the works of Wes Anderson. White Noise does seem like Baumbach’s most ambitious film yet, but unfortunately in many areas it feels like it has a leash tied around it that stops it from truly being something special.


Adam Driver’s Performance

Can Be Relevant in Places


Doesn’t Know What it Wants to Be

Uneven Structure

Final Thoughts

White Noise is a surrealistic dystopian tale that never really truly feels coherent. Glimmers of the Baumbach excellence do shine through at times, but unfortunately is never enough in providing for a captivating experience that will have you glued to the screen. White Noise is streaming on Netflix right now.

(The above story first appeared on The Hamden Journal on Dec 30, 2022 06:24 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website thehamdenjournal.com).

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