Directed by: Richard Linklater
Review by Livi Edmonson
Adapted from the best-selling 2013 novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is a comedy, a drama, and even a mystery. Bernadette Fox (played by Cate Blanchett) has the perfect daughter, husband, house, and a once-successful career in architecture. What she doesn’t have? Enough sleep, friends, and oh yeah, a peaceful state of mind. Frazzled and lost at times, Bernadette suddenly disappears without a trace, hours before her family’s impromptu trip to Antarctica. Her concerned daughter, Bee, (played by Emma Nelson), and her workaholic husband, Elgie (played by Billy Crudup), must put their already chaotic lives on hold to search for their mysterious, yet lovable Bernadette.
If “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” has two things working in its favor from the get-go — its critically-acclaimed director, Richard Linklater, and its star, Academy award-winner, Cate Blanchett. Linklater, known best for “Dazed and Confused” (1993) and of course, “Boyhood” of 2014, has a large following of fans, buffs, and critics who know what to expect from the director/writer’s films when going into a movie. Therefore, many people will jump to it when it comes to rushing to the theater to see the film. Fans of Blanchett (like myself), and also fans of the hit novel, will also rush to their local theater to see the flick, too. Thus, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” had quite a lot of pull when it came to getting audiences into the theater. However, what the film lacks is the ability to push people into staying in the theater.
Linklater, although still a fabulous director, failed at this film. The direction and style of the film, in general, is nothing special. The film is kind of a “same-old, same-old,” moms-night out kind of film. The movie also takes its leisurely time to jump into the real storyline. The script spends too much time on Bernadette’s backstory and her petty fights with pestering neighbor, Audrey (played by a hilarious Kristin Wiig), rather than on the mystery at hand.
However, the film’s saving grace is — (drumroll, please) — Cate Blanchett. For those who are familiar with Blanchett’s work, you can expect her usual snarky yet extremely lovable humor and quick-witted dialogue in her portrayal as Bernadette. Oh yeah, and did I mention that this character is perhaps, the most perfect role for her? Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Bernadette, as well as the character of Bernadette herself, truly make this film worth it for anyone who wants to waste their time on an OK film. Her character’s meddling but devoted motherhood demeanor makes her both relatable and interesting.
“Where’d You Go Bernadette” is a simple film about a complex character. It will not win any awards, nor will it stick in your mind a week after seeing it, but it does have a small portion of heart at its core if you look closely enough. Cate Blanchett gives a dazzling performance, but unfortunately, the rest of the cast’s performances fall short, resulting in a mediocre film based on a wildly original premise. I give it a 6 out of 10 for entertainment value, but mostly for Cate Blanchett, who can hardly do any wrong.