Noah Baumbach’s films are filled with little, personal disasters, but White Noise may contain the most literal version yet. Based on Don DeLillo’s book of the same name, a suburban family faces peril from the “Airborne Toxic Event,” in which chemical waste is spewed upon their small town. Under Baumbach’s direction and led by his frequent collaborators Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, it’s sure to be unlike any disaster movie we’ve ever seen.
Here’s the logline from Netflix: “At once hilarious and horrifying, 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 in an uncertain world.”
Sounds like a tall (if somewhat vague) order, but Driver seems capable of navigating this movie’s many moods. As Jack Gadney, a professor of Hitler studies at the local college, he perfects his driest Dad line delivery. “What does it matter what they’re doing in other cars,” he chides his children, who are observing their fleeing neighbors to know “how scared” they should be. Later, he mysteriously narrates, “May the days be aimless. Let the seasons drift. Do not advance the action according to a plan.”
Appearing alongside Driver and Gerwig (more like her wig in this movie, right?) are Raffey Cassidy, Alessandro Nivola, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lars Eidinger, Don Cheadle and André Benjamin (a.k.a. André 3000). White Noise is Netflix’s first film to open the Venice Film Festival; it’s also the first film ever to open both Venice (in late August) and the New York Film Festival (in October). The film does not yet have a premiere date on the streaming platform, though the teaser promises it’s “coming soon.”