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

TIFF 2018 Review: DRIVEN (USA 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Driven Poster
Intense thriller where politics, big business and narcotics collide.

Director:

Nick Hamm

Writer:

Colin Bateman

Irish Nick Hamm directs DRIVEN based on the outlandish true story of the John DeLorean (Lee Pace) the designer of the car of the same name (the vehicle used in BACK TO THE FUTURE), the rise and downfall of him and his Californian neighbour Jim (Jason Sudeikis).  This is the second film about drug snitching after WHITE BOY RICK but in this one the federal drug agent, Ben Tisa (Corey Stoll) is more effective. 

 While Hamm tries to dramatize the events, a lot of the film depends on the technical details of the case, which might bore a few people, judging front a number that left the theatre during the showing.  The fact that Hamm is Irish is clear with the facts emphasized that Belfast made the Titanic and a lot of workers will be out of work if the DeLorean manufacturing money does not go through.  The story is already crazy enough without having to put in the ridiculous 10 second ending which obviously did not happen. 

 Good period 70’s atmosphere coupled with superb performances by Sudeikis and Pace.

Trailer: https://teaser-trailer.com/movie/driven/

Film Review: ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL (Canada 2017) ***

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Public Schooled Poster
A socially awkward home-schooled kid forces his way into public-school against his suffocating but loving mother’s wishes.

Director:

Kyle Rideout

 

The film delivers exactly what the title says – it is a boy’s adventures in public school.  

But it should be noted that this boy is different.  And he is only in public school for 3 months as he is home schooled by his possessive but loving mother.

Educated by his fiercely enthusiastic mother, Claire (Judy Greer), teenage Liam (Daniel Doheny) is the quintessential über-nerd, a wannabe physicist who is about to take his equivalency exam and head off to Cambridge, England – with his mother in tow.  At the exam he spots Anastasia (Siobhan Williams), an enigmatic beauty who lost a leg to cancer.  Instantly smitten, he changes his answers, hoping to flunk and have to redo his final semester in public school. Liam is given a crash course in high-school dynamics, ranging from bullying to hallway flirting, as he timidly pursues Anastasia.  Mamma is livid!

The film gives home schooling credit with Liam learning everything and becoming a genius in all his subjects.  This would imply the mother to be a genius as well.  The film also acknowledges the shortcomings of home schooling, but only one of them – the social aspect.  Home schoolers are socially impaired as they miss out one of the best things in school – playing with other kids and getting into trouble and having a greater perspective look on life.  Other problems of home schooling are largely ignored such as how the home school teachers are only the mother and father and they can be fucked up.  Whatever happens if their break up?  The father figure of Liam is completely ignored in the film.

The film’s saving grace are its two lead actors who not only are credible in their characterizations but ease into their roles really well.  Greer managers to be winning while possessive while Doheny captures nerdy and smart at the same time.  One hope to see more of this rising star in the future.  The confrontation scene between mother and son (inevitable, obviously, given the film’s theme) is kept smart and funny.

Rideout uses up beat music with dance beats to liven up his movie.  The sequence with mother and son dancing together also reveals the bond both have for teach other despite their problems.

The film ends with a segment in a classroom in Cambridge, England.  There is one exterior shot of the university and it is not a very convincing shot, myself having visited the University in Cambridge twice.

The question ultimately arises on whether one would believe home schooling works. Rideout’s film cleverly never takes any clear side.  

ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL is a simple yet funny and interesting film that thankfully avoids all the toilet jokes normally found in films of this genre.  Recommended!!

Adventures in Public School screens publicly on Friday, January 12 at 8:30pm and on Saturday, January 13 at 12:00pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, running January 12 to 21.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCq7HlhybOg

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Happy Birthday: Judy Greer

judygreer.jpgJudy Greer

Born: July 20, 1975 in Detroit, Michigan, USA

Married to: Dean E. Johnsen (17 December 2011 – present)

 

 

 

 

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