Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was hoping to watch ‘Death to 2022’ on Netflix, but since the creators decided not to do one for 2022 year end, I streamed ‘White Noise’ instead. “From Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach comes an absurdist comedy about a family grappling with love, death and an airborne toxic event” – sounded like something right up my alley. And it was, for some parts at least.

Adam Driver plays Jack, a professor who is an expert on Adolf Hitler, while his wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) takes ‘posture classes’, together the two are raising four kids and find their life turned upside down when a toxic airborne event forces them to evacuate their home. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to summarize this film because a lot of random strange things keep happening and the pace is just all over the place.

The dialogues are deliberately verbose, so the conversations between Jack and Babette sounds out an literary play instead of regular talk between a married couple. The writers make them sound scholarly, intellectual, but give them ridiculous insecurities which offer a comical contrast to their beings. Death is a dominant theme of this story. ‘I believe there are two kinds of people in the world. Killers and diers. Most of us are diers.’ a character hilariously says at some point to Jack. The professor has an irrational fear of dying and his wife Babette has some sinister secret anxieties of her own. Her daughter Denise (Raffey Cassidy) finds out Babette has been popping some unknown pills and that becomes a major mystery in the plot.

The story is both chaotic and calming. Imagine the world coming to an end, everybody around your town running in panic and losing their mind, but you and your family choose to quietly sit around the dining table discussing what to have for dinner. While some scenes are witty, entertaining, others are painfully awkward and cringe-y. One can see a touch of Beckett in the writing, but the problem with ‘White Noise’ is that it’s not absurd enough. Baumbach doesn’t stretch the limits of imagination, sure, there are some bizarre elements in the tale, but they never come together. The film feels like a forensic expert stitching up one body with limbs that belong to different people.

It’s a 6/10 from me.

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