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Noah Baumbach's White Noise to open this year's Venice Film Festival

The dark comedy based on the seminal novel by Don DeLillo stars Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig

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Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig
Adam Driver (Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain) and Greta Gerwig (Getty Images, Lars Niki)
Photo: The A.V. Club

The Venice Film Festival has officially found its opener in Noah Baumbach’s White Noise. The director’s adaptation of the seminal Don DeLillo novel will see its world premiere at the onset of the festival on August 31—per Variety, this marks the first time a Netflix original film has kicked off the festival. Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig star in the film, with Jodie Turner-Smith, Don Cheadle, Raffey Cassidy, Sam and May Nivola, André L. Benjamin, and Lars Edinger rounding out the ensemble cast.

As Variety describes it, the black comedy follows Jack (Driver), a mild-mannered professor type who makes his academic name off of a Hitler studies class he teaches at a liberal arts college in the Midwest. As Jack and his wife Babette (played by Baumbach’s own partner Gerwig) navigate the ins and outs of family like with their brood of four, the menacing prospect of an “airborne toxic event” looms large. Eventually, Jack, Babette and their family must let go of domestic problems and come together to face a greater, more unruly threat.


Venice director Alberto Barbera made the announcement, calling it a “great honor” to open the festival with White Noise, which he called “an original, ambitious and compelling piece of art which plays with measure on multiple registers: dramatic, ironic, satirical.”

“The result is a film that examines our obsessions, doubts and fears as captured in the 1980s, yet with very clear references to contemporary reality,” Barbera concluded.


DeLillo’s original novel serves as a grating critique of the illusion of academia and the Ivory Tower, the nuclear family and how technology controls the two— heavy material made light by his whip-smart tone. The book makes makes more than suitable material for the off-beat Baumbach, who favors complex and imperfect characters, tortured artist types with a penchant for intellectual narcissism. This also marks Baumbach’s second film with Driver as his endearing lead—the two collaborated previously for Netflix on Baumbach’s 2019 semi-autobiographical drama Marriage Story.

Baumbach also expressed his excitement for the first spot in the lineup, calling his return to the festival “a truly wonderful thing.”

“This is a place that loves cinema so much, and it’s a thrill and a privilege to join the amazing films and filmmakers that have premiered here,” Baumbach shared.