White Noise (2022)
January 2, 2023 3:08 PM - Subscribe

Jack Gladney, professor of Hitler studies at The-College-on-the-Hill, husband to Babette, and father to four children/stepchildren, is torn asunder by a chemical spill from a rail car that releases an "Airborne Toxic Event" forcing Jack to confront his biggest fear - his own mortality. [IMDB]

Based on the book by Don DeLillo
Adam Driver plays J.A.K. Gladney, Greta Gerwig plays his wife Baba, and Don Cheadle plays Professor Murray Suskind.
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Streaming on Netflix

Hot take: Cheadle should have played Gladney, Driver could have done Suskind. The movie peaks in the first 10 minutes as Suskind rhapsodizes about the glories of the American car crash scene against a backdrop of supercut accidents.
posted by chavenet (21 comments total)
...professor of Hitler studies...


posted by Thorzdad at 3:17 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

It's a field Gladney single-handedly invented in 1968 and has been pursuing enthusiastically ever since!
posted by chavenet at 3:26 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]

Thorzdad, the book was written in part as a satire on academia. You have to invent your field in order to do original research!
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:59 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]

Watched about 20 minutes of this and bounced out so hard. It's almost a parody of an "Indie" film where everyone talks at the same time and everyone is convinced that the entire thing is so clever that they're almost breaking out of character and into laughter. Not for me, I guess.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:52 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]

I found it remarkably true to the language of the book and the rhythms of DeLillo's writing, but the cadences those translated to on film didn't quite make sense. The affect was all wrong. And while they were true to the book to a fault, they still managed to really fuck up the balance between horror and comedy. I read a much funnier book.

That said, it was visually stunning and had some great art direction. The overhead shot of the aisles in the grocery store was taken right out of a Andreas Gursky photo. And the Toxic Event. Wow.
posted by Stanczyk at 10:27 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]

Watched about 20 minutes of this and bounced out so hard.

Heh, sounds like you dipped out right at the point when I almost did. I'm glad I stuck it out, however, because the 2nd act (The Airborne Toxic Event) redeemed the entire movie, in my opinion. And I really warmed to Adam Driver after that first act. I think both he and Gerwig pulled off great comedic performances.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:43 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

I still haven't decided if I want to watch this.

I really liked White Noise when I read it, but that was a looong time ago, and I have a feeling that, as another old white man from the literary canon put it, you can't go home again.

But I'm into book-to-movie, like, as a concept.

But the audience reviews are just horrific.

So indecisive.
posted by box at 2:09 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

But the audience reviews are just horrific.

Like you, it's been a long time since I read it. 97, give or take. I don't remember anything about it. I do remember thinking it definitely would not be the type of book most would like to read.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 2:43 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

Stanczyk has it right... it's a great book and the movie makes sense on paper but somehow the entire purpose seems lost here.

Almost worth it just to see adam driver do whatever though.
posted by AlbertCalavicci at 4:43 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

Warning: Book hate below

This book single-handedly destroyed my last book club. Well, okay some members were flaky, but this was the nail in the coffin. I stopped somewhere between 30-40 percent of the way through. Normally I can finish even a book I hate if I get that far. Not this one, because I did not find a single character that I liked or hated enough to care what happened to them. If the book is about the event and it gets that far without it starting, I'll pass thanks.

If this has rave reviews, I might chance it, but not at this rate.
posted by soelo at 2:25 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]

I tried to read this book when I heard the movie was coming and bounced off it at about 20% through. It was so much people talking to each other about essentially nothing. I understand it is a classic but I had a hard time staying engaged.

I liked the movie ok. I felt the reach exceeded the grasp as an overall work but there was a lot to like - good performances, great art direction.
posted by jeoc at 6:06 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

It took me until this thread to realize that the movie of this name was actually based on the book. I had just kind of assumed that wasn’t possible. Huh.
posted by atoxyl at 9:44 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]

I watched the movie and didn't even realize this was the movie based on the description posted here. I still can't tell you what this movie was about. I've never read any DeLillo but my impression is that this is someone whose novels don't work as movies. People don't talk like his characters do, and it wasn't enough to make me suspend my disbelief and enter that world but it was enough to be off putting through the whole movie. He's a famous author so I guess it works on paper.
posted by archimago at 9:53 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I kinda loved it. It took me a few minutes to get used to the weird rhythms of the acting but once you got into it, it's a lot of fun. I had some idea that the book was a very serious and heavy chunk of great American novel literature and did know that it was a comedy. I really haven't laughed as much watching a movie in a while. I kind of see it as a cross between Wonder Boys and National Lampoon's Vacation with some Eyes Wide Shut thrown in.
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]

I had no information about this movie prior to watching it other than seeing the trailer. I absolutely loved it. Multiple times during this movie I could feel the big dumb grin on my face, no idea what was going to happen next.

There's something of both Wes Anderson and Yorgos Lanthimos in the feel of this movie, I think. It makes me think of movies that wear their unreality much more blatantly than this one, like The Lobster or Wyrm.

I am apparently an outlier, but I thought it was great from start to finish.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:50 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]

my god the rotten tomatoes is down to 32% audience rating

I will say this: I don't think the trailer accurately portrays the kind of movie this is. The trailer makes it look like a wacky family road trip movie basically, and not a heightened reality absurdist movie about death with more interest in language than plot.

I was fine with that, because the movie turned out to be even more my cup of tea than expected, but I wonder how many people watched this because of the trailer and then bounced off really hard and gave it a bad review

seriously though that dueling lecture about elvis/hitler... *chef's kiss* no notes
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:55 AM on January 8

I thought the movie was lol-funny. I read the book a few times, but so long ago that I hardly remember anything except for the broad plot outline. It had the feeling of a near scene-for-scene adaptation (if not line-by-byline). It took me a minute to realize it was a comedy, but once I caught the vibe I had a great time. Adam Driver was fantastic; it was like watching Chevy Chase and Jeff Goldblum play the same role simultaneously.

The second act was filmed about 5 miles from here at Camp Manatoc, an old Boy Scout camp inside (but not part of) the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They have great hiking trails that are fun to poach. All the interior shots were filmed inside the dining hall. It is one of the coolest places I've been. Unfortunately I don't have any good pics of the inside except for a few of the troop placards.
posted by slogger at 10:18 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]

I liked the book when I read it 20-odd years ago, and was curious how they'd make it into a movie, and following it basically shot-for-shot at points worked better than I expected. There are scenes that are great - I love the grocery store, like the jumbled family conversation scenes, love the Hitler-Elvis duel and the dumb robes that tenured(?) profs wear.

That said, I watched this in four half-hour increments spread over a week because it's a LOT. If I didn't know and like the book, I wouldn't have stuck it out. Watch a supercut instead.
posted by momus_window at 11:08 AM on January 12

I laughed so much watching this...it was just so absurd! I really enjoyed the Elvis/Hitler lecture and everyone talking at once. Now I'll have to read the novel...
posted by schyler523 at 8:09 AM on January 25

After a train derailment, Ohio residents are living the plot of a movie they helped make
When Ben Ratner's family signed up in 2021 to be extras in the movie "White Noise," they thought it would be a fun distraction from their day-to-day life in blue-collar East Palestine, Ohio.

Ratner, 37, is in a traffic jam scene, sitting in a line of cars trying to evacuate after a freight train collided with a tanker truck, triggering an explosion that fills the air with dangerous toxins. In another scene, his father wears a trench coat and hat while people walk across an overpass to get out of town. Directors told the group they wanted them to look "forlorn and downtrodden" as they escape the environmental disaster.

The 2022 movie was shot around Ohio and is based on a novel by Don DeLillo. The book was published in 1985, shortly after a chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, that killed nearly 4,000 people. The book and film follow the fictional Gladney family – a couple and their four kids – as they flee an "airborne toxic event" and then return home and try to resume their normal lives.

Ratner tried to rewatch the movie a few days ago and found that he couldn't finish it.

"All of a sudden, it hit too close to home," he said.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 10:17 AM on February 14

After a train derailment, Ohio residents are living the plot of a movie they helped make

Awful! Archive link as that site is GDPR geoblocked in Europe.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:34 PM on February 14

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