#REVIEW: “WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
The Film is a study of what creative repression does to a person’s psyche.
Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) is an agoraphobic mother and wife with an intolerant personality. She typically spends her days cleaning her rundown mansion, fighting with neighbours, and picking her daughter Bee (Emma Nelson) up from school. Her repetitious life drastically changes when Bee asks for a family vacation to Antartica as her graduation present. This request causes Bernadette to reevaluate her monotonous life and reignite her creative passion.
The Film has the serene direction style Richard Linklater has become known for; letting the audience become flies-on-the-wall watching humanity unfold on screen. This time the humanity we’re exposed to is of an impolite upper-class woman. We typically like characters like Bernadette who says everything on their mind, because they say the things we withhold due to the ramifications. These vulgar outbursts make Bernadette a difficult person to root for yet we do because she’s played by the endearing Blanchett who brings humour and humility to Bernadette when none is found. Most notably in a scene where she and Kristen Wigg, playing social-climbing neighbour Audrey, verbally- insulting each other in the street.
No matter how mesmerizing Blanchett is to watch in these comedic scenes there is too much time spent on them. This is a Film about a woman who has lost herself. From the outside looking in it appears Bernadette has everything: she’s wealthy and has a loving family. However, her neurosis is due to her repressing her natural creativity. She was a prominent architect who abandoned her dream 20-years-ago. This central story is overshadowed by too much time spent following Bernadette telling-off her neighbours.
Linklater does make up for the lack of focus on Bernadette’s neurosis by visualizing her internal struggle. When Bernadette is repressing her creativity her home is literally falling apart and she seems to do nothing to help improve it, she simply keeps it at bay. By the Third Act, Bernadette is getting back into her creative groove and finds herself surrounded by the simple surroundings of the ocean and sleek icebergs: things are now simple and clear. It’s also here where Blanchett dives into the root cause of Bernadette’s problem and manages to make internal changes physical. As always she is a marvel to watch.
eOne Films releases WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE Friday, August 16, 2019.