Venice film festival opens with White Noise, Oscar buzz and a reluctant sex symbol

At Venice you’re guaranteed a taste of old Hollywood glamour – Lady Gaga delicately perching over the edge of a moving water taxi, George and Amal Clooney gliding over the horizon or Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck making their red carpet debut.

But the world’s oldest film festival, now entering its 80th year, places equal emphasis on the new. The 11-day event launched on Wednesday with the Adam Driver flick White Noise, marking the first time a Netflix film has officially opened Venice – seven years after the festival became the first to open its competition to streaming services.

Directed by Noah Baumbach and based on the Don DeLillo novel of the same name, White Noise is one of several Netflix entries competing for the Golden Lion top prize this year, as the streaming giant seeks to burnish its arthouse credentials.

The black comedy stars Driver as Jack Gladney, a middle-aged Hitler Studies professor, Greta Gerwig as Babette, his distracted wife, and a household of precocious children who together attempt to deal with an “Airborne Toxic Event”, the mundane conflicts of everyday life, and the universal mysteries love and death.

Baumbach’s last Venice film, Marriage Story, also starring Driver, went on to get six Oscar nominations and a win for Laura Dern. Speaking on Wednesday, the director said he read DeLillo’s novel in the 80s, and then again in 2020 and found that it still felt relevant. A few weeks later, the world shut down due to Covid-19.



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