Where’d You Go Bernadette Review – An Engaging, Entertaining Film with Outstanding Performances

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Where'd You Go Bernadette, from Annapurna Pictures, brings to the screen the story of change, as a brilliant architect and her equally creative and talented software developer husband leave sunny Los Angeles for the Seattle suburbs.

Directed by Richard Linklater, Where'd You Go Bernadette stars Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Emma Nelson, Kristen Wiig, Laurence Fishburne, Zoe Chao, Thalia Torio, Steve Zahn, Megan Mullally, and Johannes Haukur Johannesson.


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The film opens with a drone view of a majestic blue ocean, as it narrows, closer to the surface we see a single kayaker, pausing, taking in the beauty of this vast, rich, barren, no man's land, watching the tail of a whale peak from the water, the challenges that got her here, the lunacy of misunderstandings, the desperation of stifled creativity, and even the gloominess of a constant, steady, never ending, rain.

In the traditional flashback format, and guided by the voice over of Bee Fox, played by Emma Nelson, we are back in rainy Seattle, as the camera pans a very large house and the many buckets scattered about, all with a towel presumably to drown out the sound of a steady stream or slow nagging drip as the rain highlights the areas in need of repair.

On this day Bernadette, played by Cate Blanchet, Elgie played by Billy Crudup and their daughter Bee, played by Emma Nelson, are in the kitchen when she asks her parents if they remembered the time they told her if she earned all A's in middle school they would give her anything she wanted?

Of course, both parents were trying to remember and Bernadette explains wasn't that to stop the idea of a pony? Well, instead of a pony she explains she wants to go to Antarctica! The three of us, away from everything, as neither have said no, the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica is on!


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The Fox's live in a very old Gothic home on a hill, with peaked towers and an unpaved roadway leading through a haunted house style wrought iron gate, surrounded by a brick wall and a thick, overgrown, bramble of blackberry bushes, that have deep intertwining supporting roots. We find out that this is a problem when we meet the neighbor, Audrey, played by Kristen Wiig, who is explaining how necessary it is for the brambles to be removed.

Bernadette, who resembles Anna Wintour, has chosen not to become a part of the Seattle Community, even as her husband, a former Disney animator, who has developed a mind-reading piece of software which Microsoft bought, is thriving. Her hopes, of course is that they will eventually return to L.A. or certainly somewhere where the rain is less present.

So, she remains connected to the "real" world through a virtual assistance from Calcutta or somewhere in India, where she dictates what needs to be done, and ordered, entrusting the kind assistant with the family's credit cards, passwords, banking and financial information.

In preparation for this trip, she also has a bout of anxiety, and attempts to secure a strong prescription. As the combination of peculiarities add up, we also find out that Bernadette was once the brightest architectural shooting star, architecture best promise for the future. Success, in this case, became tinged with sorrow.


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What follows snowballs like a mudslide and exacerbated by the whispering of gossipy neighbors and coffee clutch middle school mom's who only see Microsoft money and the eccentricities of fame.

Where'd You Go Bernadette is a very entertaining film and even as the intent is not to highlight the emotional challenges of Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, and uses humor to diffuse the emotional issues brought on by depression, stifled creativity and disappointment and is realistically delivered with both gentleness and exasperation by Ms. Blanchett.

Billy Crudup turns in another exceptional performance as the brilliant software developer and husband who is so caught up in the environment that he loses sight of real value.

Emma Nelson, we see from the beginning delivers a stand-out performance and as she is often paired with Ms. Blanchett, the two compliment each other and she even manages to steal the scene every now and then. She is equally strong during her scenes opposite Mr. Crudup.


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The ensemble of players also, each bring solid performances. Kristen Wiig captures the suburban, organic, Type A personality, a local who would protest Microsoft as the evil giant even with all the good it does, as the doors were never opened for her, although quick to spot an opportunity to cash in when she see it.

Laurence Fishburne and Megan Mullally, each have cameo scenes. Fishburne, plays a former professor who can understand immediately Bernadette's issue and Megan Mullally, plays a real estate agent.

Outstanding, well written and well-acted with strong, character driven performances, Where'd You Go Bernadette opens August 16, 2019.

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