Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), professor at Blacksmith Collegeis an absolute eminence in the field of Hitler studies in North America, despite some problems with spoken German. His family life with his children and his wife Babette (Greta Gerwig), gym teacher and addict to a drug not tracked on the market, the Dylaris characterized by a withered and repetitive daily life consumed in Midwest, not without notes of sweetness as well as discomfort. All certainties, even the most fleeting ones, crumble when a cloud rises from the ground to the sky and threatens to approach his house, due to a chemical accident near which will lead everyone to flee in search of shelter.
After the success of Story of a marriagethe new yorker Noah Baumbach returned to direct his favorite actor Driver, in his fifth collaboration with the Brooklyn director and his second as the protagonist, right after the commendable performance in Marriage story next to Scarlett Johansson. The titanic challenge of White noise was to bring to the big screen white noise of Don DeLilloa novel with which the great American writer won the National Book Award in 1985 and a cornerstone of American postmodern literature, long considered too dense, jagged and inaccessible a text to be successfully translated on the big screen.
A test bed that Baumbach undertook in the period of maximum recognition and artistic maturity, after a life spent profitably as the partner of Wes Anderson and the aura of a hipster author of brilliant and bittersweet comedies already largely consolidated, as well as projected recently towards more traditional horizons and running for the Oscars. His intellectual sensibility finds in the pages of DeLillo an imaginative engine not indifferent, as it was easy to foresee, but also limits and not only ballast.
The many challenges imposed by a book as complex as white noise left on the paper ample margins of freedom and invention which have also been widely collected, but having to adhere to DeLillo as an inalienable inescapable grid has ended up producing one of those asphyxiated operations in which it seems that the images must ceaselessly reoccur and breathless the written word. With all the shackles of the case and a fragmentation which, both in the forays into the academic world and in those between the four family walls, looks like a crazy centrifuge.
Accustomed to probing the chiaroscuro, sometimes funny, sometimes bitter, of dysfunctional families and equally fragile and cumbersome married lives, since the time of The squid and the whaleBaumbach with White noise, despite the waste of energy, means, curses and contingencies that seem to have plagued the production process, he brought home perhaps his most compromised, anesthetized and clipped-wing film. It is clear that they are involved remnants of the great american novelstarting from one of its maximum points of deflagration and deconstruction as it is white noisebut above all we are in the 80s america’s brightest and brightest consumerismin which supermarkets can be chosen as a place of comfort and regeneration of the spirit, and infinitely reproducible desire. What is missing, however, is a vision of Reagan hedonism that finds its own voice under the comfortable blanket of a surreal and alienating optimismand that it manages to make its way with originality through the many intersections between oddities and mysteries and in the shaded areas between hysterical sarcasm And family tragedy.
The legitimacy and philological correctness of white noiseor, compared to the book, it is however guaranteed by the large place given to the fear of death, leitmotif constant of an adaptation which, when it comes to drawing conclusions, puts a lot of emphasis on this philosophical element but ends up watering it all the same in tones of acting and staging very often shifted. Especially in the duets between the two spouses, where it is almost always Greta Gerwig, Baumbach’s muse, who misses the right turn and limits herself to transferring the disheveled and painful melancholy of her other trials into a context that would have deserved a remoteness from a very different level and a whole different measure. Without forgetting that the dances (the real ones) seem to open really too late, practically with the credits already started.
Photo: Passage Pictures, Heyday Films
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