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article imageReview: ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ rides on a stellar performance Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 19, 2019 in Entertainment
‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ features a standout performance by Cate Blanchett as she plays a woman with a unique and sometimes contrary view of the world, answering what turns out to be a metaphorical question.
Being a genius has often gone hand-in-hand with a prevailing sense of individuality, and some level of quirkiness and/or social awkwardness. It’s thought their minds work differently than other people’s, not just in terms of their brilliance but how they relate to the world and other humans. Thus, relationships can be quite challenging, more so for the other person who must learn to accept, tolerate and/or adapt to the prodigy’s eccentricities. There are certainly ups and downs, and not all connexions can survive the extra pressure, but those that do can be wonderful. In Where’d You Go, Bernadette, the stress becomes a little too much and a family reaches its breaking point.
Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was an acclaimed architect and the youngest to win a prestigious grant. However, when she and her husband Elgie (Billy Crudup) moved to Seattle and had their daughter, Bee (Emma Nelson), she stopped creating. Now somewhat of a hermit, Bernadette gets her personal assistant to take care of all the mundane aspects of her life via detailed emails she dictates. Most of her creative juices are instead channelled into terrorizing her do-gooder neighbour (Kristen Wiig) and her school moms clique. On the brink of a family trip to Antarctica, Elgie discovers Bernadette’s unusual approach to life has made them vulnerable and stages an intervention with the guidance of Dr. Kurtz (Judy Greer). Bernadette, in turn, flees and Bee is the only one who can find her.
It’s undeniable that Blanchett is the star of this film in every meaning of the word. Her portrayal of Bernadette’s terse personality is on point as it’s clearly just the way she is rather than an active attempt to be mean (most of the time). Consequently, the audience can still relate to her — especially her distaste for the overachieving moms — and enjoy her peculiarities. Viewers may question their loyalty when Bernadette seemingly abandons her family, but she’ll draw them back over to her side as they watch her come back to life. She becomes haphazardly involved in the most unexpected project and is quickly consumed by the possibilities it presents.
Like the book upon which it’s based, the movie is an amusing commentary on life in Seattle. Bernadette meets an old colleague (Laurence Fishburne) and goes on a tirade about everything she dislikes about the city — especially the architecture. In the meantime, Elgie is so occupied with his work on a new piece of software, he doesn’t really notice the effect the move has had on Bernadette until it’s too late — and then he proceeds to blame her for not making it work. The accounts of the early years of her career and their relationship are noteworthy, while also explaining Bee’s special connection to her mother.
Director Richard Linklater excels with quirky pictures that focus on distinct people and all of the actors do an exceptional job in bringing life to their unusual personalities.
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer and Kristen Wiig
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