‘White Noise’ opens the Venice Film Festival without applause – 08/31/2022 – Illustrated

‘White Noise’ opens the Venice Film Festival without applause – 08/31/2022 – Illustrated
‘White Noise’ opens the Venice Film Festival without applause – 08/31/2022 – Illustrated

Neither hot nor cold. The Venice Film Festival kicked off its 79th edition with a film that received a lukewarm reception from journalists. “White Noise”, by American Noah Baumbach, did not repeat the performance of his “Marriage Story”, which had captivated critics and audiences at the Venetian party three years ago, guaranteeing a presence at the 2020 Oscars.

The Netflix drama comedy presented in Venice on Wednesday was the first production by a streaming service to open a major festival. The film features Adam Driver as a university professor specializing in Adolf Hitler. The discipline he teaches is jokingly called “Advanced Nazism.”

He is married to a woman played by Greta Gerwig who is addicted to an antidepressant that is still being tested. His family also includes four children, including a feisty teenager and a geek obsessed with encyclopedic definitions.

An accident with a truck loaded with toxic products poses a threat to the inhabitants of the small town where the couple lives. The smoke forms a radioactive cloud that they believe can prematurely kill anyone who approaches. Driver’s character thinks his life might be cut short by this.

The story takes place in the 1980s, with frizzy hair and colorful clothes so characteristic of the decade. “I was a teenager at the time. It was a formative period for me,” Baumbach told a news conference. “The film is a story about American culture and living around it.”

The work is based on the eponymous book by Don DeLillo released in 1985, and those who read the novel say that the material does indeed provide a critical observation of middle-class American society in the late 20th century.

Baumbach’s adaptation even preserves the analytical aspect, but only up to a point. It’s a poorly controlled film that never seems quite sure what it has to say — or, at least, how to say what the director intends to convey.

By showing the existential crises and the panic of dying of the white and comfortable American couple, the film does not reserve as much space for an acid verve as it dedicates to the characters with condescension. Baumbach seems more fascinated by them than critical.

The family is talkative, somewhat messy and sometimes oblivious to the real world, but it is always “lovable” — and trying to make films with “lovable” characters has been the keynote of Baumbach’s work so far, especially when his wife, Gerwig , is part of the cast.

Perhaps “Marriage Story” reached a higher quality level than the rest of the filmmaker’s work precisely because it broke this rule. The characters were what they were, in their flaws and qualities.

But, in “White Noise”, the director once again wants the public to be enchanted with his creation, with those crazy people, but all too human. It lacks, however, emotional strength, charisma, despite the good performances. The feature film is flawed, incomplete, without being as fun as it promised or acidic as it could be. The first session ended without applause or boos.

In addition to the premiere, the festival is particularly fed up with English-language features. This has been going on since the middle of the last decade, when the event crystallized as the first on the film calendar to release competitive films in the Oscars season.

In the last ten years, four of the winners of the golden statuette have made their world premieres in Venice, but this year the Anglophilia has come to draw attention – from the contest for the Golden Lion, almost half of the features (a total of ten, twice as many as last year) are spoken in English.

In addition, for the first time the party has among its main guests the director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Hollywood, Bill Kramer, which reiterates the honeymoon between Venice and the Oscars. On the one hand, Italians guarantee themselves in the spotlight. On the other hand, the Americans show their policy of internationalization of the Academy.

If the United States continues full steam ahead at the festival, Russia, a country with traditionally good traffic at the event, is deeply suffering the effects of the Ukrainian War. Only one co-production involving the country was included, and it was out of competition — still, a film without state funding from the Putin government.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s homeland, on the other hand, with a much more modest film industry, had four productions. The exhibition has already officially expressed its opposition to Russian attacks on Ukrainian territory.

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Another Venetian political position is shown in the inclusion of “No Bears”, by Iranian Jafar Panahi, in the official competition. The director has been imprisoned in his country since he publicly spoke out against the incarceration of other fellow filmmakers. Venice has also officially taken a stand against his detention, with a flash mob in defense of Panahi expected on the red carpet next week.

Brazil, this time, has no film in Venice, which portrays both the post-pandemic national production crisis and the Jair Bolsonaro era as well as the traditionally precarious dialogue between promoters of our cinema and the Italian show.

Among the other features vying for the Golden Lion are new works by filmmakers such as the American Darren Aronofsky, the British Joanna Hogg and the Mexican Alejandro Iñárritu. The jury chaired by actress Julianne Moore will announce the winners at a ceremony at the end of next week.

The article is in Portuguese

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