‘White Noise’ review

Christopher McHale
3 min readJan 4

Noah Baumbach unleashes our confused over-thinking mind on the unsuspecting world.

White Noise’ is brilliant.

Don Dellio’s 1985 postmodern novel was called “unadaptable.”


Because the novel shapeshifts like a chameleon taped to a kladiscope.

Life, my friend, is dominated by the cereal aisle and TV on one side, and scary mortality on the other. Good luck making sense of it.

The movie has that same hyper-active shape shifting rapid fire non sequitur craziness. Charlie Parker playing Looney Tunes. Alan Ginsberg playing Scrabble.

Part Woody Allen (irksome) part Chevy Chase (funny) part Wes Anderson (symmetry color whackos), part Hitchcock (suspense music) with a powerful dose of Speilburg (alien invasion).

How does this work in a film?

Well, it’s a glorious hot mess, tbh. If your brain is not wide-open and ready for this madness, forget it. It won’t work for you.

But if you love this book (I do) and these lines (lots lifted straight from page to script), and these incredible characters and scenes and riffs, this film totally gets into your head. Like being alone on a 3D IMAX carousel. It twists your mind as you reach for illusions of light floating past your eyes.

“Family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation.”

Adam Driver takes this on like he takes everything on, no holds barred, Greta Gerwig is so beautifully neurotic, Don Cheadle a perfect counterpoint parachuting in to guide the wild, crooked insight.

“They came to be a crowd.”

What is this story?

“Maybe you can kill death.”

And I think they do.

Somehow we work our way from Hitler as Elvis to an A&P (greatest brand placement in film history) as “a waiting place to recharge us spiritually.”

Brands and product lists bound across the screen just like they do in the novel. We tumble down (or is that up) an Escher staircase of one lifestyle bleeding into another, one story…

Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher writes about creativity, culture, technology, music, writing. www.christophermchale.com