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August 21, 2019

Where'd You Go Bernadette (2019) --- "Her Mystery, Their Journey, Our Adventure."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) is floundering. Although one of the most brilliant architects of her time, she has not created anything for 20 years after experiencing a devastating loss in Los Angeles. Now living in Seattle with her tech-guru husband Elgin (Billy Crudup) and their daughter Bee (Emma Nelson), she has a decaying fixer-upper and has an ongoing feud with her neighbor Audrey (Kristen Wiig), an overbearing and catty PTA mom. Over the years Bernadette’s marriage has gone stale, her agoraphobia is spinning out of control, she obsesses over her hatred of Seattle and yet despite all of that her daughter Bee, with whom she shares a loving and joyful relationship, is the one bright spot in her life. After receiving perfect grades, Bee decides that her choice of reward is a family trip to Antarctica but as the trip gets closer and closer, Bernadette’s behavior sends her into a tailspin that makes her increasingly incomprehensible to her husband. However, in his clumsy attempt to help her Bernadette disappears. Desperate to find her, Elgin and Bee travel to the ends of the earth and learn a little more about each other along the way, while Bernadette finds the escape to rediscover her passion.

     Directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Last Flag Flying) and co-written alongside Holly Gent (Me and Orson Welles) and Vincent Palmo Jr. (Boyhood), Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2019) is an unusually entertaining comedy film based on the bestselling runaway by Maria Semple. In terms of making it to the big screen, this film took the long way around. Filmed back in 2017, the film’s release date was pushed back three times before finally making it to the big screen and it was well worth the wait. 
     Richard Linklater is well versed in balancing exaggerated comedy with real sadness that serves the film well. Linklater and his co-writers restructured the story from being an epistolary novel composed of emails and transcripts, to being an acting-driven character study where the plot is a secondary concern. The presentation of Bernadette’s house acts as a visual metaphor for her life and that without an outlet to channel her creative energies into she has become a menace to society. The film's setting also helps carry the story as well. The film starts out in a rainy, gloomy and gray Seattle setting and later shifts to the sunny and unenclosed Antarctic setting, which visually demonstrates Bernadette’s journey of rediscovering herself and reigniting that old spark of creativity. Of course, there are times when the film has trouble finding its footing but the overall result is incredible. 
     The cast performances are incredible. Linklater stated that he cast Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America, Ocean’s 8) as the lead because “only a genius can portray a genius believably.” Now whether or not you agree, there is no denying that Blanchett was the perfect choice to play Bernadette. This is a grandiose character and yet Blanchett is able to truly captivate the audience with her story. Billy Crudup (Watchmen, After the Wedding) provides a nice voice of sanity as Elgin and newcomer Emma Nelson (Margaret and the Moon) is incredible as Bee, who appears to far more mature than she looks. Other supporting characters like Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live), Laurence Fishburne (John Wick 3), and Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars, Clara) all did great in their respective roles.
     Overall, Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019) is an exaggerated comedy with real sadness that delivers an inspiring message to never forgetting your passions but to also never let your passions leave you oblivious to the world around you. It's good to follow your dreams and passions but not at the expense to where your oblivious to what’s happening to those around you. The cast performances are solid, especially from Cate Blanchett and Emma Nelson who have great chemistry together. All in all, this is a wonderful story and while it does not follow the book in terms of story presentation and narration, the changes were justified for the film version. I highly recommend that you check out this film as I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Final Vote --- 8.3 of 10 stars

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