‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ focuses on a woman you wish would stay gone

A former architect (Cate Blanchett) now spends her days at home and her energy cutting down her husband, her neighbor and pretty much everyone else in “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” | Annapurna

In a rare weak performance for Cate Blanchett, she plays an aggravating, off-putting wife and mother in Richard Linklater’s disappointing book adaptation.

The prolific and versatile and consistently original writer-director Richard Linklater is one of my favorite filmmakers of the last half-century.

From “Slacker” (1990) to “Dazed and Confused” (1993), from “Waking Life” (2001) to “School of Rock” (2003), from “Boyhood” (2014) through “Last Flag Flying” (2017), if I haven’t loved a Linklater film, I’ve liked it quite a bit.

Until now.

Cate Blanchett is unquestionably one of the great actors of our time. Through the years, I can’t imagine I’ve ever been underwhelmed by any film performance she’s ever delivered.

Until now.

Filmed in a solid but straightforward style, populated by troubled characters who are aggressively off-putting, frustratingly passive and/or easily lampooned clichés, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is one of the most disappointing movies of 2019.

The attempts at broad comedy are hit-and-miss at best. The social satire arrives late to the table, offering no new food for thought. Most of the putatively heart-tugging hugs-and-tears moments feel forced and unearned.

Have you ever lived next door to an unbearably difficult neighbor, or at least found yourself seated next to an insufferable complain-a-holic on a long flight?

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is the movie version of that experience.

In a story adapted from the 2012 novel of the same name by Maria Semple, the great Blanchett plays the title character: one Bernadette Fox, a 40-something wife and mother who hates leaving the house, loathes the other moms at her daughter’s school and in fact despises people in general, because in Bernadette’s eyes they’re all stupid and awful and transparent and vain.

What’s the old saying? If you run into a jerk into the morning, you ran into a jerk. If you run into jerks all day — you’re the jerk.

As we learn through snippets of a documentary available on YouTube (complete with interviews of former colleagues of Bernadette’s played by Steve Zahn and Megan Mullally, among other familiar faces), Bernadette was once among the most promising architects in the world — but after a wealthy and quite horrible British TV producer purchased Bernadette’s first great house in order to tear it down and use the land for parking spaces, Bernadette had a meltdown, and hasn’t worked in nearly 20 years.

Now Bernadette spends her days stomping about the cavernous, rundown, ramshackle house that stands out in shocking contrast to the modern McMansions on the street in her posh neighborhood. (It looks like they’re the first family to occupy the place since the Munsters moved out.) She’s often harsh and short when talking with her long-suffering husband Elgin (Billy Crudup), a highly paid innovator at Microsoft who spends long days and nights working and who can blame him, and she’s even nastier when dealing with nosy neighbor Audrey …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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