In White Noise, the year is 1984 and Professor Jack Gladney is a university lecturer who specialises in the study of Adolf Hitler. Despite the unusual subject matter, Jack enjoys his day job, and has built up a great life for himself, which he shares with his wife and three children.

But one day, there is a traffic accident close to Jack’s house, which results in a toxic spill. Because the spill poses a significant threat to human life, Jack and his family are forced to leave their home in the middle of dinner and head for safety.

While this is a monumental event for the Gladneys, in time life begins to return to normal, leaving Jack to mull over things closer to home. Jack’s thoughts include his own mortality, after being exposed to gas from the toxic spill.

Image: ©Netflix
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Directed by Noah Baumbach, and based on the novel of the same name by Don Delillo, White Noise stars Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, and Don Cheadle. The movie is a somewhat absurd drama-comedy, which is currently available to stream on Netflix, following a limited theatrical release in 2022.

White Noise is quirky, mildly humorous, and at times visually arresting. However, the story is clunky, the pacing is all over the place, parts of the film drag, and some of the line delivery is beyond irritating.

The first third of White Noise frustrated the heck out of me, the second third held my attention for a while, before losing me again, while the final third failed to deliver any real satisfaction. There is some decent material in the film, and Adam Driver puts in a good turn as Jack (even if he does mumble a bit), but White Noise feels like a patchwork piece, whose main aim is to be an Oscar contender.

Image: ©Netflix

From the overlapping dialogue and off-kilter performances, to the unusual premise and genre-twisting story, White Noise appears to be working overtime to try and catch someone’s attention. The end result is a film which may boast some stunning cinematography (this is without question), a solid soundtrack by Danny Elfman, and an excellent use of lighting, but jeez, for the most part this movie is all style and no substance.

There are flashes of brilliance, and some of the more comical scenes dealing with the aftermath of the toxic incident land well, but these moments come and go. And once they are gone, what remains is just a collection of ideas and set pieces that feel hollow.

I wanted to get invested in the story, honestly I did, but it bored me rigid. I wanted to connect with the material, but it left me disappointed.

Image: ©Netflix
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As noted above, Adam Driver as Jack is a highlight of the film (regardless of the mumbling) and his ability to play any character shines through. The same can be said for Greta Gerwig in the role of Jack’s frizzy-haired wife Babette, who looks as if she has been plucked right out of the 1980s.

Yet despite Driver and Gerwig’s best efforts, they simply can’t do much to steer this film to victory, or even keep the momentum going. The whole piece sets off on the wrong foot and never manages to correct its course along the way.

Unless you’re a big fan of the source material, or you simply want to indulge in some of the (pretentious) nonsense in this picture, I suggest you find something else to watch. I found it to be messy, bloated, and certainly not worth all the time, effort and money.

White Noise might work for some, but it didn’t work for me.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.

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