Where’d You Go, Bernadette Brings A Book To Life

Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette Fox in Richard Linklater’s WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, an Annapurna Pictures release. Photo credit: Wilson Webb/Annapurna Pictures.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette brings the bestselling novel to life in a comedy that ought to remind artists how important it is to create.

Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) could have had it all.  Before dropping off the face of the planet, the architect won a MacArthur Grant.  Living in Los Angeles would have been a dream.  Yet she packs it all up to move to Seattle where she now lives with daughter Bee (Emma Nelson) and husband Elgie (Billy Crudup). What Bernadette does have is a  loving family that cares about her.  However, all of that creative passion has left the building a long time ago.  She now depends on a virtual assistant to get through the day.

Bee wants to go to Antarctica with her family.  It’s this trip that leads to Bernadette’s breakdown.  Her depending on virtual assistant will certainly come back to haunt her more than she knows.  While en route to Antarctica, Bernadette meets marine biologist Becky (Troian Bellisario).  Bernadette gets re-inspired as a result of getting to know Becky.  Who could have ever guessed that a trip that originally led to a breakdown would lead to her re-discovering her passion?!?

I like what former Saturday Night Live star Kristen Wiig brings to the film as the Fox’s not-so-nice neighbor, Audrey.  Her performance may be comedic but it’s more of a dramatic comedy performance.  As a character, Audrey is not someone that you can come away liking upon viewing the film.  I give you much credit if you do but for me, I found it rather impossible.  I do love how Wiig portrays her on screen for what it’s worth.  It’s nothing close to the outlandish stuff that we get from Cate Blanchett in the film.  When the two of them start playing off of each other, it soon becomes something of a show.  When Bernadette breaks down during an intervention, it becomes a surprise when she relies on none other than Audrey of all people!

Emma Nelson, a newcomer, manages to hold her own against the Oscar winner.  Bee is a mix of both Elgie and Bernadette.  She also considers her mom to be her best friend.

The visuals while in Antarctica–and that’s assuming that they filmed there rather than in Canada–are completely impressive.  At the same time, you can’t help but feel for the continent with the climate crisis going on.  When Bernadette decides that she needs to create the new South Pole station, I couldn’t help but wonder if it tied into the construction of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.  The station was constructed in 2008 to replace an aging structure from 1975.  I don’t believe that the film takes place that long ago so I don’t know what to think of the footage at the end of the film.

DIRECTOR:  Richard Linklater
SCREENWRITERS:  Richard Linklater & Holly Gent & Vince Palmo
CAST:  Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Emma Nelson, Zoe Chao, James Urbaniak,  Troian Bellisario, and Laurence Fishburne

Annapurna Pictures opens Where’d You Go, Bernadette in theaters on August 16, 2019.  Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.