White Noise by Noah Baumbach: the review of the film with Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig

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We’ll never know if death is really a dull, cruel white noise. AND, ça va sans dire, no one will ever be able to go back to tell us what form it manifests the terminus of existence. Instead, the fear of dying, a primary emotion shared more or less by the entire human race, can be transfigured into a work of art. At the moment the only form of immortality allowed to men is the artistic masterpiece. AND White Noise, the novel written by Don DeLillo in 1985, winner of the National Book Award, can be considered a milestone of postmodern literature. Bringing that perpetual overflow of jokes, reflections, thoughts to the big screen is a test worthy of Sisyphus. But New York director Noah Baumbach likes challenges a lot. So, after the remarkable Story of a marriage of 2019, the filmmaker returned to Lido with this feature film which opened the 79th Venice Film Festival. and which has been available on Netflix since 30 December.

As they say: “good first time”. Both because White Noisenet of the eighties setting, is a work that forces us, shuffle the cards, to confront ourselves with today’s reality, also because right from the beginning the film transports the viewer to an anthology of the most spectacular car accidents represented from American cinema to continue with a dizzying domestic Epiphany, sealed by this epochal joke: “The family is the cradle of world disinformation”. Between a station wagon exhibition and a chili fried chicken, one wonders if sheep have the eyelashes, while the theory that the supermarket is a portal, a transitional space between living and dying is rampant.Moreover, in Baumbach’s film, Adam Driver, a university professor, with an ashen, tormented, lost gaze, holds a course in advanced Nazism. Common sense does not live here, in a title that cheerfully spins comedy, drama and satire. From the pernicious toxic cloud constituted by the deadly ” Nyodene” to “Dylar”, an off-market psychiatric drug that can alleviate death phobia. White Noise is an illustrated almanac of the contemporary Apocalypse. The references to Covid and the pandemic are not lacking like the blame directed at the capitalist mantra “produce, consume, die”, but without ranting preaching or moralistic guns.

After all, like the protagonist, we all want to be able to kill death. And when we’re scared, we chase after strong, mythical, iconic figures. It is no coincidence that Adolf Hitler considered the masses his only wife. And in this grotesque and surreal chronicle of an announced disaster, we understand why the temptation to steal, instead of buying, to shoot, instead of talking, makes room for nightmares and paranoia. Alongside Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig (in life partner of the director of the film) proves to be the ideal interpreter to represent the evil of living in terror of the thought of the end. Of note is the performance by Lars Eidinger. After the Fassbinderian Gottfried von Schack from the series Irma Vep, the German actor once again offers us the portrait of a devalued and unforgettable borderline character. Maybe he’s right the nun who utters the line “Hell is when no one believes.” So we are left with hope at the end of the delirium, the calm after the storm in an overdose of sugarless gum and cheerio donuts. And you get lost in the rhythmic dance over the end credits. A sort of flashmob between the aisles of frozen foods and shopping trolleys. An exhilarating and, at the same time, disturbing choreography. A macabre dance, a memento mori, between shopping trolleys and queues at the checkouts. Will it be a receipt that will bury us?