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noah is quick to point out all the reasons why something won’t

I despise being so reliant on technology, but without my computer I would spend hours staring at the ceiling, pondering my place in the universe; this is, I suppose, Don DeLillo’s point in White Noise. The novel from 1985 is a classic of postmodern fiction, but for reasons that become clear upon reading it, it has never been adapted into any other medium. The novel keeps changing forms, making the reader feel the tension between the ease of modern life brought about by consumerism and technology and the inevitable finality of death.

The new film adaptation of the novel by Noah Baumbach is an admirable attempt to capture DeLillo’s book, but the film comes so close to failing because it is so true to the source material. In 1984, Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) is the head of the Hitler Studies department he established at his own university. In their large, multigenerational home, he and his wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) raise their many children, most of whom are from his previous relationships. His seminars examining Hitler’s speeches, for example, are incredibly popular, and Jack’s coworker Murray Siskind (Don Cheadle) wants Jack’s assistance in establishing an equivalent Elvis Studies department. However, strange things start to happen when a toxic cloud appears on the horizon, and the news begins to talk about the airborne toxic event.