White Noise (2022)

Where I Watched it: Netflix

English Audio Description?: Yes

Other than my usual perspective of being blind and watching with audio description, i also have not read the book. I’ve heard some call it unfilmable, but I have no context. From what I can tell, i understand their hesitation. i miss the Noah Baumbach who was more interested in seemingly being the next Wes Anderson, and directing offbeat indies like The Squid And The Whale. Netflix letting him do whatever with large sums of money isn’t helping.

White Noise is a film not everyone will like. That’s a fact. Not an opinion. It’s not like I’m just trying to thrust my thoughts upon you, it’s actually a very unique structured film that runs a lot with symbolism, gives its characters a very distinct pattern of speech, and often makes little sense.

The brand names come through in the audio description, as do the many car crashes. This movie has a lot of car crashes, actually opening with Don Cheadle talking over a montage of car crashes. I wish i understood the point of his character, because to me, he’s so odd. obsessed with car crashes, and trying to turn Elvis into Hitler. Something to that effect. Meanwhile, our actual leads, played by Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, are saddled with nonsense. Driver is a Hitler Studies professor, and Gerwig is his third wife, trying to maintain her appearance. They have a Brady Bunch grouping of kids, all of whom have distinct personalities. Some critics hav disliked the kids, but I actually enjoyed the kids more than the adults.

For whatever reason, Baumbach wrote the kids with more consistency than the adult counterparts. Driver is frequently asked to do things that alter his character, leaving him as just a shell by the end. He has no discernible personality trait. All of it is gone. I’ve heard people say this film is about facing your own mortality, or protecting those you love, but it’s hard to pull any of that from Driver, who can’t be bothered, and is so out of touch, if he was childless, he’d be dead.

There’s a jump scare in here… God knows why.

Then, after the film has moved past the critical event that is the catalyst for most of the film, we have a third act that centers around some pills Gerwig’s character has been taking, which leads Driver on a bit of a Sorry To Bother you path. Then, the film ends, with a musical number. Because… why not at this point?

It’s a baffling movie, almost like an everything but the kitchen sink film. I respect what Baumbach is trying to do, because of how broad it is, but for every time he’s at bat, it’s like he gets two strikes, three balls, and finally hits a grounder that gets him to first base. Nothing really to celebrate. But hey, at least he can get on first eventually. This film has some really great scenes, most of them involving the kids, but some involving others. Driver has a great moment talking about whether or not he’s been exposed and what that could mean for him, and he’s talking about it with someone who is totally clueless, which makes it funny.

But the lean toward humor, makes me wonder what’s up with the horror/jump scare? And the car crashes? Tonally, this is all over the place, and it never quite sits in the pocket because of it.

Noah Baumbach is a great director still chasing his magnum opus, because this isn’t it. I kinda chuckle when someone talks about this films Oscar prospects, because i know they haven’t seen it. The fact that Driver got a Golden Globe nomination is baffling to me. Billy Eichner in Bros deserved that way more.

Final Grade: C-

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