For over two decades now, filmmakers have tried to adapt White Noise, Don DeLillo’s breakthrough 1985 novel about nothing less than the pitiful state of contemporary America. Many called it unfilmable, with the project bouncing around between studios and streamers. Finally, someone has done it: Noah Baumbach’s White Noise is set to debut August 31 at the Venice Film Festival, making it the first-ever Netflix film to premiere there on opening night.
"It is a great honor to open the 79th Venice Film Festival with White Noise,'" festival chief Alberto Barbera said. "Adapted from the great Don DeLillo novel, Baumbach has made an original, ambitious, and compelling piece of art which plays with measure on multiple registers: dramatic, ironic, satirical. The result is a film that examines our obsessions, doubts, and fears as captured in the 1980s, yet with very clear references to contemporary reality."
Newly released today, the first trailer teases an adaptation that promises to hit all the notes of comedy and tragedy in DeLillo’s hallowed text, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1985. If you haven’t read White Noise, allow us to bring you up to speed. Adam Driver plays college professor Jack Gladney, who made his name pioneering the field of “Hitler Studies.” Jack lives with his wife Babette (played by Greta Gerwig) in a bucolic midwestern town, along with four of their seven children from previous marriages. The family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate. The crisis forces Jack and Babette to confront their mortality, as well as the fault lines in American culture, like consumerism and academia.
If the early press is anything to go on, White Noise is bound to succeed. "Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of White Noise is an unequivocal triumph: a wildly entertaining and morbidly funny meditation on the way we live now that is also the director’s most ambitious and expansive film," said Denis Lim, artistic director of the New York Film Festival. "Aided by a brilliant cast led by Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, Baumbach has not only captured the essence of Don DeLillo’s beloved, era-defining book—he has turned it into a movie that speaks profoundly to our moment."
White Noise will hit Netflix on December 30, just in time to send you into the new year on a tailspin of nihilism. Watch this space for updates as we continue to learn more.
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