Where’d You Go Bernadette Review
Dan Skip Allen
Cate Blanchett is no stranger to off the wall characters. She has portrayed everything from a queen to women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She has garnered two Academy Award wins for portraying Kathryn Hepburn in The Aviator and Jasmine in Blue Jasmine. Portraying the title character once again in Where’d You Go Bernadette, Cate is going for another Oscar. She’s this generation’s Meryl Streep.
Cate plays Bernadette Fox, a mother of a teenage daughter named Bee Branch, portrayed by Emma Nelson, and wife of husband Elgie, portrayed by Billy Crudup. Bernadette has been a successful architect, but now she is a stay at home mom. She picks her daughter up at school and mingles with the other mothers at the prestigious school. She is a neurotic damaged woman at this point in her life. Her husband is worried about her, but her daughter worships the ground she walks on. She is having a hard time adjusting to her new life in Seattle. There are similarities between Bernadette and Jasmine though. Cate is able to take us, the viewer, to a dark place. She does damaged very well. It’s evident in Where’d You Go Bernadette.
The supporting cast in this film really does a great job of complimenting Cate Blanchett. Kristin Wig portrays Audrey the stuck-up next door neighbor. Everything Bernadette does is wrong in her mind. Judy Greer and Lawrence Fishbourne portray a doctor and an old colleague. They both help provide more context to a complex woman in Bernadette. It’s Billy Crudup and Emma Nelson, in a breakout role, that anchor the film in some semblance of reality. Their relationships with Bernadette are why we are invested in the film. These characters create a dynamic which kept me interested throughout the film. They all act off each other very well. Their ups and downs together are like a roller coaster ride.
Richard Linklater is famous for Boyhood and his Before Trilogy. Some would say his slacker films of the early 90’s are groundbreaking film making. Where’d You Go Bernadett is a departure from all those other films. The husband and wife relationship seems a little too familiar to me. He tackles the work of Maria Semple like a seasoned pro. Adapting this book in another directors hands could have been a disaster, in Linklater’s hands it’s a work of pure genius.
Where’d You Go Bernadette is a film about a family dealing with a tough situation. How you handle these situations can be either detrimental or a lifesaver. The character dynamic between the three leads is flawless. We feel sad, angry and happy all throughout the film. That credit should go directly to the screenwriters and director. They handled the material perfectly. If you are looking for a film about real people dealing with real problems, then I implore you to seek out this film.
3 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen