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“White Noise” promotes love like a 2 AM glass of water

Arthur Michelstetter

Editor-in-Chief of Verbatim

February 26, 2024

This article contains spoilers for “White Noise.”

“White Noise” has confused a lot of people since its premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival—casual viewers, film buffs, and critics alike. Why are there German atheist nuns? Why does Adam Driver change his behavior every few seconds? Why did I forget there was a gas explosion? After watching this adaptation of the 1985 novel with the same name, I am left with a little bit of knowledge—however, I know the incredible strength of Jack and Babette Gladney’s love.

The film is extremely funny through the eccentric personalities of all the main characters. Greta Gerwig’s (Babette) misty performance holds the family together, but Adam Driver (Jack) is impeccably and fluently awkward. The dryness of his character makes the comedy cut like a knife, notably his explanation of his own family. Watching the movie is an unnerving experience; for example, during the first part, the Hitler references become nearly unbearable, especially in the loud supermarket.

Toward the end, the comedy becomes extremely touching, too. The aforementioned German atheist nuns happen to provide some sort of sense to the absurdity when they discuss with Jack the importance of believing in zany ideas (ideas beyond practicality,) claiming the ideas are the foundation of our society. The nuns are a metaphor for artists, highlighting that connection to emotions are important to our world, similar to Jack and Babette’s love that overcomes extreme challenges throughout the film.

Like their commitment to each other in spite of extreme circumstances, Jack and Babette’s relationship with their family during “The Airborne Toxic Event” is jarringly powerful. When Jack watches Heinrich inform other evacuees about the nature of the gas, Jack watches proudly since he lets Heinrich be his weird self throughout the movie. Even when Denise is the main driver of conflict, she still leaves a good taste in your mouth because she only wants to help her mother lose her addiction.

Most dramas create their conflict through relationships and testing love, but “White Noise” refreshingly accepts love as the preconception. The love might be “tested” by outside scenarios, but it never wavers. It's like a superhero movie, Love standing strong against anything in its path.

Technically, the movie is very interesting as well. The sets are not anything special, but the lighting and special effects for the storms make the atmosphere unnervingly bizarre. The film can, at times, be hard to follow; I’m lucky I was fully awake on my first watch. If you stick until the end, though, the result is quite rewarding, and the film gave me a good serotonin kick for a week.

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