Then Playing — White Noise; Resurrection; The Eternal Daughter

White Noise (Noah Baumbach, 2022). The only way this film can reasonable be deemed a success is by subscribing to the wholly unsupported premise that writer-director Noah Baumbach set out to prove that Don DeLillo’s landmark 1985 novel was accurately deemed unadaptable. If such validation were the goal, then mission accomplished. It surely doesn’t help that Baumbach, whose best films are grounded in observant understatement, is artistically unsuited to the task of ferrying DeLillo’s caustic satire to the screen. DeLillo’s bleak comic commentary on all manner of capitalistic and cultural absurdity becomes hollow clowning in Baumbach’s rendering of White Noise. An overqualified cast is left to flounder. It’s particularly dismaying to see Greta Gerwig, Baumbach’s longtime partner, dragged into this mess for her first onscreen acting in six years.

Resurrection (Andrew Semans, 2022). Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is a successful businesswoman and single mom, to soon-to-be-college-bound Abbie (Grace Kaufman), whose life starts to unravel when a a mysterious fellow (Tim Roth) from her past creeps back into the picture. Writer-director Andrew Semans uses the sturdier structures and well-worn tropes of countless seething thrillers to get at the deep wounds left by past traumas and the desperation that mounts when survivors try to prevent their offspring from springing the steel-tooth clamps of similar traps. If a couple plot planks creak from the strain of implausibility or heavy foreshadowing, its more a momentary distraction than an overly problematic diminishment of the film’s power. Although Semans’s visual craftiness is a factor, much of the credit for the emotional momentum of Resurrection goes to Hall’s ferociously committed performance. She claws the rough truth out of every moment.

The Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg, 2022). Writer-director Joanna Hogg gets especially artful and even playful with her latest outing of autobiographical cinema. Julia Hart (Tilda Swinton) is a screenwriter who travels with her mother (Swinton again) to a remote inn for a sort of working holiday. The attempts at creating the illusion of Swinton sharing scenes with herself are wonderfully minimalistic, and there’s similarly only the barest attempt to make the actress look all that different in the two roles. A gray-haired wig plopped on her head is about it. The Eternal Daughter was filmed somewhat on the sly during a time of COVID lockdowns, which helps explain some of those choices, but Hogg clearly takes the limitations as opportunities for creativity. The film is moody and odd as it explores the complications between mother and daughter. I can completely see how its relative wispiness and affection might strain the patience of some viewers; mostly I found it to be a lowkey charmer. As the front desk clerk and all around utility player at the hotel, Carly-Sophia Davies absolutely masters the art of cordial hostility.

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