Film Review: WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE (USA 2019)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster
Trailer

 

A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

Writers:

Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

The answer to the question of the film title: WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? is Antarctica.  Bernadette (Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett) is seen at the film’s start kayaking along in waters with icebergs in the background.  What led to this scene?  The film flashes back the story 5 weeks earlier to explain the series events leading to this.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a mystery comedy drama that has two things going for it.  First is the film’s director Richard Linklater (BOYHOOD) who has made quite the name for himself as a filmmaker to be reckoned with.  Second is its star Cate Blanchett who is the main reason to see the movie.  Blanchett is nothing short of excellent, supported by an equally apt Kirsten Wiig playing Audrey her woman-made enemy.

The film is based on the recent bestseller of the same name by Maria Semple – with a few changes.  The novel could be described as unfilmmable as it consists of a series of emails and texts, so to Linklater’s credit, he has done an excellent job with his script.

The book is mostly narrated by Bee who is the daughter of Bernadette but the film makes Bernadette the main character.  Bernadette is an agropbobic architect  who after considerable success winning the prestigious architecture award in L.A. has moved with husband, Elgin (Billy Crudup) and daughter Bee (Emma Nelson) to Seattle where Bernadette never leaves the family home.  Elgin is an important designer at Microsoft.  All of Bernadette’s chores are done through her cell phone via Anjuli.  When Bee convinces both parents to go on an Antarctic cruise, Bernadette tries to come up with any excuse not to go – as she hates people and seldom leaves the house.   There is much more in the plot which should not be disclosed in the review.  But it s safe today that Bernadette runs into a big fight with her neighbour Audrey (Wiig).  When her husband suspects that his wife is having psychological problems, he and assistant, Soo-Lin (Zoe Chao) arrange a meeting to have her committed. This is the Bernadette escapes ending up in Antarctica.

In the book,  Soo-Lin is impregnated by Elgin, but this is not the case in the film.  Bernadette suspects he husband of liking Soo-Lin but that is it and there is no infidelity unless one can argue that it could be implied.  This simplifies the story which is already quite complicated with too many subplots.

The script is a little too heavy on the dialogue.  The voiceover, and dialogue from all the characters appear too perfect for the typical American, though one can argue that one character is an architect and the other a Microsoft genius.  The script sneaks in quite the few world issues like environmental conservation, climate change and feminine presence.  As in recent films such as Alfonso Cuaron’s ROMA and the recent THE KITCHEN where it is said: “we women have to stick together.”, the statement is realized in the segment when the enemy Audrey bonds and ends up aiding Bernadette when her husband plans to commit her.  A woman is also in charge of the Antarctic Station.

Stay for the ending credits where the design of the Antarctic station comes alive in front of he audience’s eyes.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE ends up an over-bloated dysfunctional family drama that is ultimately resolved in a somewhat entertaining film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em1onUCArxs

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