Film Review – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (M)

Directed by: Richard Linlater

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

One could suspect that something may have been lost in translation in adapting Maria Semple’s novel, as the film slowly loses touch with reality as it’s lead character sets out to rediscover her creativity.

Bernadette (Cate Blanchett) is a celebrated architect who stepped away from her thriving career when she got married and had a family.

Years later she, her husband Elgie (Billy Crudup) and teenage daughter Bee (Emma Neslon) live in a dilapidated renovators dream house in the Seattle ‘burbs where the icy, busy housewife finds herself in constant dispute with neighbor and annoying PTA mum Audrey (Kristen Wiig).

But with Bernadett’s increasingly erratic behaviour, it becomes clear that she has become “lost”.

Exploring the importance of expressing one’s creativity and the consequences for one’s mental well-being when they no longer have a creative outlet is intriguing and makes for some juicy food for thought.

However, this adaptation seems to lose its way. It is about the mid-point in which Elgie calls in a shrink (Judy Greer) for an intervention that the film screeches to halt to explain Bernadette’s psychological state via a slew of exposition.

From there it takes a strange turn when Bernadette just up and leaves to Antarctica, and that’s not the strangest thing that happens in a coincidence filled final third that is difficult to be on board with as an audience member.

It is around these turns that one could there was a breakdown in the adaptation of the novel. This story grounded in reality slowly begins to lose touch with it.

Blanchett is a powerhouse of flustered energy, pitching her performance perfectly so that when all about Bernadette’s past is finally revealed, her behaviour all makes sense. If it weren’t for the film’s structural missteps, this would be one to go back and watch again immediately to marvel at the intricacies of Blanchett’s performance.

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