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The Venice gala audience gave the film a three-minute standing ovation, with big cheers for lead Adam Driver in particular. The first-ever Netflix film to open the world’s oldest festival appeared to amuse and amaze in equal measure.
The film — adapted from Don DeLillo’s breakout novel (the first film from Baumbach not based on his own original idea) — tells the colorful and eccentric tale of university professor and well-respected expert in Hitler studies, Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), and his wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig). The two grapple with worries about death, fears only exacerbated following a catastrophic nearby chemical explosion that pollutes the air.
Alongside Driver and Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, André Benjamin, Jodie Turner-Smith and Don Cheadle also star in the Netflix feature, which lands in Venice just three years after Baumbach and Driver’s last collaboration with the streamer, 2019’s Marriage Story.
Earlier in the day at the press conference for White Noise, Baumbach said that he’d started re-reading DeLillo’s novel at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and was surprised by “how relevant it felt and how relevant it felt to the moment.”
Baumbach also commented on the new LCD Soundsystem track that plays in the film’s closing scene, a dance sequence in the supermarket, and how he’d gotten James Murphy to create it.
“I told James, essentially, write the song you would have written if you were writing music in 1985, and write a really catchy, fun song about death.”
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