It begins with Don Cheadle’s lecturer delivering a treatise on the cultural importance of the car crash in American cinema. Sadly, this verbose, smug and fatally charmless 80s drama is something of a car crash too.
Adam Driver sports a beer gut to play Jack Gladney, an unconvincing middle-aged professor in Hitler Studies. Greta Gerwig with a frizzy hairdo plays his quirky wife and four young actors struggle with a wordy script to play his precocious kids.
After exhausting scenes of intellectuals theatrically spouting off on a university campus, something approaching a movie plot kicks in when a lorry transporting poisonous gas crashes on the outskirts of their town.
As an “airborne toxic event” rolls on to their street, the Gladneys embark on a road trip.
There are a couple of memorable whimsical moments and an entertaining musical sequence runs behind the end credits. But this is one car crash where it’s all too easy to look away.
White Noise is in cinemas now, on Netflix from December 30 (certificate 15).