Onto the final review of 2022 but before that once again thank you for your love and support throughout the year! And wishing you a happy and prosperous new year 2023 from all of us at Popcorn Reviewss. With that I finished watching the new English film White Noise which is now streaming on Netflix. The film is directed by Noah Baumbach who had previously directed Marriage Story and so I did have hopes from the film. But the buzz for the film was non existent, a testimony to an ice cold weekend in terms of the new releases which was a bit of a dampner. But the job still needed to be done and so here are my two cents on White Noise.
Story & Screenplay
Based on a novel by the same name, White Noise follows the story of a college professor who following a ‘Airborne Toxic Event’ is forced to confront his biggest fear – death. The story here is absurd yet the humour in it makes it a hilarious watch in more ways than one. The screenplay standing at about 135 minutes os about the perfect length to keep your attention span intact, given its wacky subject.
The drama straight up did remind me of the 2021 film Don’t Look Up in terms of its tonality and comedy. Speaking of the latter, the comedy here is niche and you often need to apply yourself before fully getting the gist of what the drama wishes to say. So you are introduced to the protagonist and his family in a solid 30 minute world building that takes place initially. There are smaller random references to a car crash in films that sets the ball rolling perfectly. It acts as a hilarious foreshadow for the actual event that transpires. The proceedings are slow yet steady at the beginning that focuses on the characterization and character dynamics between characters before one of the many conflicts is introduced.
The drama is engaging and engrossing particularly after it shifts gears post the first 30 odd minutes. The subtle social commentary on the media and the circus that it creates revolving around chaos is perfectly represented in this drama. The entire sequence of a cloud burst leading to a quarantine where all hell breaks loose was one of the most hilarious yet profound sequences on celluloid all year. It was hilarious and had me cracking up on the final day of the year! But as soon as I thought that the story would then focus on the events during the storm, the randomness in the screenplay kicks in, but in a positive manner!
The drama is philosophical in so many ways. The discussion around the fear of death is real and I know of many people who are scared of it. But the only truth in life is death and so while in the present, it is imperative to live life to the fullest. All of these sentiments are represented through a series of scenes involving a pill which is used to treat the anxiety around death. So the events in the second act are beautifully woven in a rather brilliantly absurd final act that is hilarious and philosophical in equal measures. The climax is hilarious yet there are layers to be discovered in it as well. For instance, the protagonist is lying on a hospital bed with his wife beside him(in a hospital run by German Nuns, opposite to the beliefs of Hitler or even the concept of God), only for a ray of light to be drawn in the grim room after they come to the realisation of their existential crisis. It may seem weird on paper but it makes for a beautiful scene on celluloid. The very next scene includes the entire family going to the supermarket to refuel their ‘spiritual side'(with the supermarket used as a metaphore for the ‘in between waiting area’. Ahhh Brilliant! So overall, the humour in the screenplay is niche but it makes for a refreshing watch!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are witty, packed with a lot of absurdist humour that will make you chuckle throughout. The music and BGM blend well with the drama. The cinematography and VFX are absolutely top notch. Director Noah Baumbach has done an incredible job in tackling a subject which was not the easiest to translate on screen. There was always a risk of the drama being that much more random. But the controlled focus and the seamless execution did ensure that this drama is incredibly good! The direction is outstanding here!
The performances are absolutely brilliant here. Don Cheadle as Murray has a profound little role and he does a good job here. Raffey Cassidy as Denise is first rate. Greta Gerwig as Babette is just outstanding and generates moments of stoic laughter through her dead pan expressions. Adam Driver as Jack is such a natural onscreen with a weird sense of comic timing that works brilliantly here. He is phenomenal to watch and his effortless act did have me in splits throughout.
White Noise is absurd, philosophical and insanely hilarious that makes for a brilliantly satisfying and profound watch. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!