White Noise: Baumbach’s Venice Fest Opener, Mixed Reviews, Muted (Short) Applause

Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig Soak Up Muted Standing Ovation

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The 2022 Venice Film Festival got off to a “quiet” (to say the least) start on Wednesday night with the premiere of “White Noise.” Noah Baumbach’s Netflix-backed adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel, which stars Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, was met with a tepid 150-second standing ovation.

That ranks as a short smattering of applause on the Lido, where many films enjoy a much more enthusiastic and sustained reception.

“White Noise” is set in the ‘80s and features an array of Easter Eggs of movies of the era, including everything from “Back to the Future” to “E.T.” Some of these references may have flown over the head of the Venice crowd. The film, which was met with mixed reviews, is a twisty, talky family drama about the despair of a married couple facing their own mortality.

The mediocre reviews for the opening night film don’t speak well for its future–including opening night of the 60th anniversary of the NYFF, Sep 30.

The Sala Grande Theatre, which has done half-capacity seating for the last two years due to a pandemic that simply refuses to fade to black, once again played host to packed crowd.

Hillary Clinton, injecting some Beltway sizzle into the A-list affair, walked the opening night carpet along with Venice jury president Julianne Moore and “Bridgerton” star Rege-Jean Page.

But it wasn’t all glitz.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine also appeared via a video segment and pleaded for the global film community to rally to the country’s cause as its war against Russia continues (he made a similar appeal at Cannes).

“White Noise” marks the second consecutive film Baumbach has debuted at the Venice Film Festival following 2019’s “Marriage Story,” which also starred Driver in a leading role. Baumbach may have been hoping to recapture the magic. Three years ago, Driver and co-star Scarlett Johansson became instant Oscar contenders for “Marriage Story” after it earned acclaim out of Venice. Netflix was also behind the film, which went on to score six Oscar nominations, including one for best picture. It earned a best supporting actress prize for Laura Dern.

Netflix has several movies debuting at Venice in addition to “White Noise.”

The streamer’s other debuts include Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Bardo” and Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde,” both eagerly anticipated.

All three films are competing for the Golden Lion.

“White Noise” will next open the New York Film Festival in September. Netflix will release the drama in theaters Nov. 25 before its streaming release on Dec. 30.