Every day, a cultural object scrutinized by a free and assumed criticism. Today, Lucile Commeaux tells us about a film that has just been released directly on the Netflix platform: “ White Noise ” of Noah Baumbachbased on a novel by Don de Lilo.
“White Noise“, it is a novel which dates from 1985, and which is undoubtedly the one which made known the American writer Gift of Lilo to the greatest number, a complicated novel, full of satirical intentions, and very incriminating against an American society deafened by its relationship to consumption and the media. Noah Baumbach’s film opportunely renews its dystopian ambition. It is the story of a family who lives in the suburbs of a small American town. The plot is set in the 80s, Jack Gladney, played by Adam Driver, is a professor at the university where he is responsible for “Hitler studies” (studies on Hitler), with his wife Babette (it’s Greta Gerwig ). they are raising four children, and everything seems to be going well in their little bourgeois and settled life – a calm however parasitized by the attempts at espionage of their eldest daughter, who discovers that her mother is secretly taking mysterious pills. One day following a serious train accident, a large toxic black cloud rises in the sky, and forces them, like their congeners, to flee.
It’s a not very pleasant but quite impressive film, which certainly demands special attention, because it is saturated, both by invasive dialogues, permanent references, a hyper-sophisticated graphic charter, a whole system that weaves through above the story a sort of permanent ironic filter. The film constantly exhibits its artifice. By opening with a conference on car accidents in American cinema, he immediately brandishes his reflexive character. The sets, hyper-coloured and often matched with the costumes, in particular the university and the supermarket where the family regularly meets, are shown as pure sets, the characters display rictus, hairpieces and supernatural curls as what they are: accessories of movie theater. All this induces a type of hyper-cerebral and little empathetic reception, a regime in which the spectator is constantly on the alert, should he adhere to the story, is he in the head of one of the characters, to what degree should he hear this kind of permanent noise that fiction imposes on him?
Paranoia is one of the great subjects of the writer Don De Lilo and the main subject of the film is paranoia as one of the symptoms of a contemporary Western crisis, a crisis on which he intends to deliver a speech. The main character works on Hitler and his power over the masses, one of his colleagues works on Elvis and his power over the masses. One of the central scenes, which is meant to be an anthology, shows them preaching to an astounded student assembly a historical and political parallel between the two phenomena. The ensuing health crisis, and necessarily reminiscent of that of COVID, works on this same matter of the masses, in the way it acts in a context of crisis, how it reacts to collective fear, and how it informs and misinforms. And the ironic form of the film is moral, it warns us: what you see may not be true, you think you are thinking, but what you set in motion are pure cultural reflexes. You think you’re watching a disaster movie, with a family stuck in a car, but the excessive colors, the slight shift in the dialogues, and the parodic side of the soundtrack tell you: don’t be fooled. In a way, the staging reproduces the paranoid functioning of the story, without really giving food for thought. Because when we come back from the manifest virtuosity of Baumbach, and of his actors – Adam Driver in particular, always exceptional – and that we take the time to reflect on what this fable tells us, we quickly establish a metaphorical and theoretical equivalence a not very poor: the cloud of toxic smoke being also that opaque of the generalized disinformation, being also that of the powder with the eyes of the frenetic consumption, being also that of the depression which watches the characters, being also that of the fascist threat. In short, a kind of bazaar of Western capitalist decay whose criticism is not very dynamic, under its appearance of complexity. Transcription of the radio chronicle of Lucile Commeaux
- white noisethe latest film by Noah Baumbach, is online on Netflix.
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