White Noise compels both an entertaining and frightening self-examination
Apart from mortality and consumption, nothing is for sure. White Noise provides us with both, in addition to a generous serving of intellectual comedy, courtesy of the curiously endearing and completely clueless Professor Jack Gladney. Based on Don DeLillo’s bestselling book of the same name, White Noise is a very particular segment of Americana that writer-director Noah Baumbach and actor Adam Driver have sharpened and exaggerated to insane dimensions.
It’s just ludicrous how the Gladneys can be both a typical American family and something completely out of the norm. Babette, Jack’s most recent wife, and Jack are both death-obsessed to the extent that it dominates their interactions with each other and their personal lives.
White Noise Cast Individual Performances
Professor Jack is a leader in Hitler topics and teaches at the nearby institution on the Hill. Jack is a successful musician among both students and his scholarly peers, but he conceals his own sense of inferiority behind an act of excessive progressiveness. Driver expertly treads this fine line, showing Jack’s rabid and annoying scholarliness as the character’s greatest flaw—analyzing the significance and context of a potentially fatal event rather than fleeing for his life. He is a flashy orator as well as a person who is virtually paralyzed by self-doubt. Driver wears both faces with an unmatched level of sincerity.
Gerwig also excels in her role as Babette, the self-medicating wife who constantly worries about dying and will go to any lengths to try to find a treatment for her “disease.” Babette is frequently limited to her duty as caretaker and parent, which is projected by her gentle tone and vacant stare. The “purpose” of Babette, according to Jack, is that she is happy and just doesn’t give in to melancholy or self-pity, utterly dismissing her own intelligent reflections on the nature of life, death, and everything that lies between. Gerwig plays Babette with compassion and control, which feels appropriate given that she is the one who keeps the Gladneys together despite his sackings.
Jack Gladney is a prisoner of his own entitlement; his conceit as a middle-class white man in the midst of tragic occurrences reveals an unsettling yet amusing reality. Baumbach demonstrates a subtle awareness of his topics in a way that the authors themselves do not by taking the original piece and amplifying the silliness in a variety of ways.
Driver is, after all, at his most extravagant when he is at his finest; a famous passage from the novel in which Jack and his friend Professor Murray Siskind deliver an unplanned joint lesson on both Elvis and Hitler is wonderful. It mocks the incompetence of contemporary academia and is put together by Baumbach with humorous method acting from Driver that highlights the irrationality of Gladney’s pride.
White Noise Evaluation
These kinds of passages may be found in “White Noise,” where the dialogue’s humorous ridiculousness highlights the absurdity of Gladney’s situation. Without holding back, Baumbach’s script faithfully captures the spirit of Don DeLillo’s book.
White Noise feels much lighter hearted than it would otherwise for a movie that is concerned with such weighty, unanswerable issues. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some intensely moving scenes, notably in the second half, which places the Gladney family’s town of Blacksmith in the shadow of a dangerous airborne occurrence. The core of White Noise is both terrifying and humorous, and that’s the whole point—to hold a light up to modern America and show the insanity of its own dualities.
With a precision analysis of academics, commerce, and even spirituality, White Noise presents a modernist perspective on humanity’s mistakes. Baumbach takes DeLillo’s actual script and exaggerates its scales, which magnify and light up in equal measure, compelling us to face our own depravity through the use of the Gladney’s as a proxy. It might be Baumbach’s crowning achievement because of the witty comments and beautifully outrageous script.
As their inner crises reach moments of weakness, Driver and Gerwig are in great form, and Baumbach surprises and enthralls with this sharp account of existentialism in a society that prioritizes consumption. The release of White Noise, a funny analysis of modernity’s speech, couldn’t have arrived at a better moment.
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