On December 30, 2022, Netflix released the film White Noise on their service. This movie originally premiered at the Venice Film Festival in late August of last year and then released to select theatres in November. Noah Baumbach, who has directed many critically acclaimed films such as Marriage Story, The Meyerowitz Story, and Frances Ha, returns to adapt Don Delillo’s 1985 book. The film stars frequent Baumbach collaborators Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, while Don Cheadle and Raffey Cassidy have supporting roles among others.
I want to start with the parts I thought were done well. I think the part that stood out the most was the comedy in the film. This comedy matches the absurd feeling really well, and despite the pretty deep tones in the movie, the comedy is a nice counterpart. Much of that is due to the comedic timing of actors, especially Adam Driver. If you enjoy Adam Driver’s performances this is definitely one to check out. I think this is his funniest performance yet as his comedic timing will make you laugh every time.
However, despite the well-written comedy, not much else sticks out in the screenplay. In fact, I think the screenplay is the biggest setback this movie has. There are many points that feel dull and slow, the first 30 minutes and last hour or so were pretty hard to get through. But, to his credit, there is a 30-minute stretch toward the middle which might be flawless. I wish it continued with the way it was going once it got to the toxic event in the film, but once that happens and is dropped the film pretty much loses me. The film spends way too much time on things that dont really need it and it really takes away from the good in the film.
An aspect that showed some highs and lows was the cinematography, done by Lol Crawley. Some scenes had a great look, but the absurd tone showed challenges for the range of Crawley. The film had to give its colors a unique tone, while still sticking to the 80s time period. At points, it had that style, but the farther the film progresses the less it becomes that.
However, when the cinematography might have been lacking, the production design was able to somewhat save it. Many of the sets fit the style very well, the grocery store and the College on the Hill were both designed great. The vibrant colors placed in these daily, and usually bland, places made everything stick out in a pretty stunning way. Another thing that blended in well was the costumes, it stayed true to the 80s style, while still giving each character its own quirks. Raffey Cassidy’s visor she wears frequently, and the ominous robes and glasses Adam Driver’s character is seen sporting frequently at the college.
Another aspect that was great was the music. Danny Elfman does what he usually does and that is a great job. And one of my favorite parts comes in the form of the song “New Body Rhumba” from LCD Soundsystem, one of my favorite songs from 2022.
White Noise is a film I really wanted to like, but when the film is a constant roller coaster of love and hate (there were scenes I loved and then immediately after scenes I didnt) it is very unlikely I will revisit, or think about this movie much in the future. 59/100