WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE Review — Cate Blanchett Found Her, But the Movie Lost Her

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Where’d You Go Bernadette review — Cate Blanchett’s performance surpasses the film.

Where'd you go Bernadette reviewEver since I read the Maria Semple’s wry and poignant bestselling novel on motherhood, creativity and accommodation, I was excited to see the adaptation on the big screen. And when I heard Cate Blanchett had signed on as the lead, I was over the moon.

Then, as the film opened, I caught my breath at some of the most stunning shots I’d ever seen: a drone’s eye view of brightly colored kayaks gliding out into a calm, crystal blue Antarctic sea. Sublime!

Unfortunately that scene, and Blanchett’s performance, were the highlights of the film. The rest is mostly a limp string of memorable moments from the book, listlessly assembled with no apparent regard for suspense, surprise or intensity.

It’s apparent from those first beautiful moments where Bernadette has gone, both literally and figuratively. The rest of the film’s purpose is to unravel how and why she got to Antarctica, but director Richard Linklater’s languid style (remember Boyhood?) is not suited to the material. It should have been quick and feisty, like the misanthropic Bernadette herself.

Instead the backstory just ambles along, punctuated by Bernadette’s bizarre behavior. Once a brilliant and celebrated architect based in Los Angeles, she fled her profession and the City of Angels with her husband (Billy Crudup) a MicroSoft exec, and her beloved daughter Bee (newcomer Emma Nelson) to Seattle, where Bernadette is most definitely out of her element.

She can’t come to terms with the culture, the neighbors or her shambles of a house, (a former girl’s school that she planned on remodeling, but has pretty much given up on). Then there are her career and health issues. When this toxic combination reaches the boiling point, Bernadette flees to Antarctica (as you do), with her long suffering husband and daughter in lukewarm pursuit.

It’s an okay movie that could have been great, given the stellar elements. In production since 2013, a whole slew of writers checking in and out and several pushed back opening dates starting at May 2018, make it apparent this has not been an easy film. Its release in the hinterlands of August confirms that the film’s Powers That Be just didn’t feel they got a firm grip on it.

If this Where’d You Go Bernadette review encourages you to run out and find her, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Rated PG-13

2 Hours 10 Minutes

Where’d You Go Bernadette review — Cate Blanchett’s performance surpasses the film.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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