The first time I saw the trailer for White Noise, I was so stunned, I couldn't even take in what I was seeing. The idea that Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Marriage Story), of all people, had adapted the seemingly unadaptable great post-modern novel, Don DeLillo's White Noise, made my brain go gaga.
As the title of the surprisingly slim 1985 novel implies, White Noise is a dizzying montage of media spew, cultural anxiety, consumer overload, the challenges of blended families, pop academic nonsense, conspiracy theories, black humor, and a meditation on the fear of death. And like all DeLillo novels, the characters all talk, well… like Don DeLillo.
So, can you make a movie out of such a post-modern gumbo? I'm anxious to find out. A number of the post-Venice Film Festival reviews have been WTF? negative, but none of the reviewers have read the book, and perhaps therefore don't appreciate the fragmented structure, cold, unnatural dialog, absurd situations, and the bleak, twisted humor, all true to the source material.
After watching the trailer several more times, I think Baumbach has done an admirable job of capturing at least some of the glorious din of White Noise. Even the color palette used in the film feels fake, plastic, and tacky in a way that perfectly fits the aesthetic of the novel.
White Noise is in theaters now and on Netflix, December 30th.