'White Noise' Ending Explained: A Toxic Affair in the Air, Grocery Stores, and Survival Fears

Let's check out Noah Baumbach's adaptation of Don DeLillo's chunky novel.

Of all the filmmakers looking to adapt Don DeLillo's divisive novel White Noise, Noah Baumbach wasn't the first one to come to mind. While the novel's satire of capitalism and consumerism seems consistent with Baumbach's feature films, the indie filmmaker has never made anything related to the science fiction or dystopian genres. Baumbach's "White Noise" is as divisive as the original text that inspired it. His hilarious, unsettling, and eccentrically sentimental apocalyptic tales have drawn praise and sharp criticism from fans and readers alike. Much of the debate revolves around how Baumbach chose to end his adaptation.

Set in 1984, White Noise tells the story of Professor Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), the first "Hitler Studies" professor to teach at the College on the Hill. Jack is married to Babette (Greta Gerwig), both of whom have been divorced before. They raised Jack's children Heinrich (Sam Nivola) and Steffi (Max Nivola) and Babette's daughter Denise (Raffey Cassidy) and the child they conceived together. Alder (Henry and Dean Moore). Despite fears his wife might be on a substance, Jack's life is thrown into disarray when the end of the world strikes The event begins to wreak havoc on the entire world.

While DeLillo's 1985 novel is an absurdist satellite (Baumbach's film retains its period context), it clearly plays out very differently in the wake of the pandemic. The film pays homage to the novel's unusual structure, which makes for many dramatic tonal shifts and genre changes. This is the end of explaining white noise in detail.

Is the apocalyptic event solved?

In the second act of the film, a toxic event in the air causes panic across the globe. A truck carrying flammable material crashed into a rail car, causing a dark cloud. The Gladney family fled their home for safety and ended up at the quarantine center after nearly drowning in the river. With his family safe, Jack was reminded of his increased exposure to chemical waste as he got out to fill up his car.

The chaos of events distracts from Jack's fears of Babette's substance abuse, as well as his concern that their children are equally obsessed with death and tragedy, as they constantly watch news footage of car crashes and accidents. Fearing his imminent death, he begins to hallucinate, and His emotions run even higher when he discovers that Babette is having sex with the mysterious "Mr." Gray" (Lars Eidinger) was awarded for using a clinical drug called "Dylar".

What happens during Jack’s encounter with Mr. Gray?

As the hallucinations get worse, Jack sets out to find Babette and Mr. Gray. His close friend Professor Murray Siskind ( Don Cheadle), who had previously given him a gun to use for survival during an airborne event, armed himself as he followed Mr. Gray to his motel room. The man he found sleeping with his wife was none other than The same person in his hallucinations.

Jack shoots Mr. Gray and plans to treat it as suicide, but Babette unexpectedly arrives at the motel. Mr. Gray, who survives Jack's shooting, shoots, wounding Jack and Babette. Jack demonstrates his bravery and finally overcomes his fear of death; Mr. Gray represents his fear of death, and in a way he finally "beats" him.

What happens in the hospital?

After being shot , Jack and Babette convinced a bewildered Mr. Gray that he was responsible for all their wounds. They drove him to the hospital, although it looked like a religious community, but Actually run by German atheist nuns. Jack and Babette forgive each other as they reflect on their experiences. They recognize that they share the same fear; Jack is hallucinating out of fear of death, and Babette takes Dylar for the same reason (despite knowing it doesn't work).

This is a surprisingly sincere ending, given the level of irony in the rest of the film. Jack has been trying to deny the reality of the toxins in the air out of fear, and Babette has been in denial about her drug problem for the same reason. After a near-death experience stemming solely from jealousy and infidelity, they realize that they built a stronger family as a result of those experiences. They hold hands as the sun rises; it's a strange angelic figure, which is ironic again because the hospital is run by atheists.

What is the meaning behind the dance number?

You must see the credits for White Noise to see the extended dance track at the end of the film. As they settle back into normal life, the Gladneys stop at the A&P grocery store that the Gladneys visit throughout the film. Other guests and staff start to improvise The dance number set for LCD Soundsystem's new single "New Body Rhumba"; the song has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and has received other recognition throughout awards season.

Similar to the hospital scene, the dance numbers reflect the distractions people give themselves to avoid fear. Consumerism and capitalism give people a sense of comfort even though they know it is a doomed system (and did fail in the airborne crisis). By simply ignoring what has happened and re-buying groceries, people are trying to set aside any valuable lessons they may have learned during the crisis.

The grocery store itself reflects a way of surviving death, as it provides food in the midst of potential starvation; there is a very funny scene earlier in the film where Jack prepares an elaborate meal for the family as the world around them crumbles dinner. The fact that the grocery store never changes is also relevant to Baumbach's satire on the prosaicness of ordinary American life. People find comfort in routine, and even the most potentially shocking things (like Jack's research on Adolf Hitler) are treated the same way.

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