White Noise (2022)
"Family is the cradle of the world's disinformation."
Marriage Story, The Meyerowitz Stories, Greenberg, Frances Ha. Noah Baumbach has been responsible for some of the most challenging and delightful projects over the past decade and a bit, both writing and directing, fiercely independent and with a unique vision that has become something of a calling card.
"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." - it really is as oblique as the pitch suggests.
Quite possibly the most difficult and complex gathering of unbridled brain farts you'll see all year. Thank heavens it's New Years' Eve. Baumbach has adapted this into a screenplay from the book by Don DeLillo, which incase you're wondering, is just as much of a puzzle in written form as Baumbach's visual bluster here.
Several stories rolled into one almost cohesive narrative is not new or particularly special by any means, but like the book, there doesn't seem to be too much effort applied to encourage the audience to sit comfortably throughout.
At over two hours, it doesn't hurry either to get its point across, whatever that may be. I'm not sure DeLillo or Baumbach are even sure what that is, if I'm honest. It starts with this middle class American family doing the things they do everyday and I was starting to get my head around maybe the title - White Noise, that filler you stop noticing, translated into comfort and predictability. Granted, they were an odd depiction of the average family, but still, it takes all sorts.
Then a 'cataclysmic airborne toxic event' befalls the town and so begins an evacuation for the whole tribe, and it is here, about half way through, that the story turns, regards its audience with brief inquisitive curiosity, shrugs as if unimpressed, and then proceeds down a very different path. To tell you too much would ruin it for you, but suffice to say that this is, by some degree, the oddest film Netflix has shared with us all year.
The performances are great, especially from Driver and Gerwig, who are clearly demonstrating a huge amount of faith in the goings on of Baumbach's grey matter. It is never a trial to sit through, seemingly impossible for it ever to become boring, purely from the vibrancy and randomness of its bewildering storytelling. Just don't expect to make much sense of it, even if it does entertain. Wrong side of smug, I'd wager.