The Venice Film Festival 2022 got off to a quieter start on Wednesday evening with the premiere of “White Noise”. Noah Baumbach’s Netflix-supported adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel, starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, was met with a tepid 150-second standing ovation and brief applause at the Lido.
Set in the 80’s, White Noise features a range of Easter Eggs for films from the era from Back to the Future to ET. The film, which received mixed reviews, is a twisted, talkative family drama about the despair of a married couple (played by Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig) as they face their own mortality.
Baumbach’s latest film is about Jack (played by Driver), a professor who made a name for himself teaching Hitler studies at a liberal arts college in Central America. With his fourth wife Babette (portrayed by Gerwig) and their children, they try to negotiate the usual rocky passages of family life. But their very existence is tested and shattered when an airborne poison event forces them to face the threat of death together.
Reviews for Venice’s “White Noise” were mixed, with diversity is Owen Gleiberman writes, “A meticulously reverent adaptation of Don DeLillo’s scathing domestic academic satirical dystopian novel about middle-class American life in the 1980s, it’s the kind of insanely audacious, fence-swinging literary event film that a gifted director has come up with, when they have celebrated success and feel their power in the industry and want to take their artistry to the next level.”
Despite the mixed reviews, the 79th edition of Venice is back in full force. The Salle Grande Theatre, which has been seated at half capacity for the past two years due to the pandemic, was again in front of a packed crowd. Hillary Clinton walked the opening carpet alongside Venice Jury President Julianne Moore and “Bridgerton” star Rege-Jean Page. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine also appeared via a video segment, urging the global film community to stand up for the country’s cause as the war against Russia continues.
White Noise is the second consecutive film Baumbach has debuted at the Venice Film Festival, following 2019’s Marriage Story, which also starred Driver. Driver and co-star Scarlett Johansson became an instant Oscar nominee for “Marriage Story” after finding recognition in Venice. Netflix was also behind the film, which received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and earned Laura Dern the award for Supporting Actress.
“It is truly a wonderful thing to be returning to the Venice Film Festival and an incredible honor to have ‘White Noise’ play as the opening film,” Baumbach said in a statement ahead of the festival. “This is a place that loves cinema so much and it is a thrill and a privilege to join the amazing films and filmmakers that have premiered here.”
Netflix has several films debuting in Venice alongside White Noise. The streamer’s other debuts include Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Bardo” and Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde”. All three films compete for the Golden Lion.
“White Noise” will next open the New York Film Festival in September. Netflix brings the drama to theaters on November 25 before releasing it for streaming on December 30.
https://variety.com/2022/film/news/white-noise-first-reactions-venice-1235337971/ White noise in Venice: Adam Driver film receives a muted standing ovation