Movie Review – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

TL;DR – A film full of promise that somehow fails to land     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.


When you watch a film that is not just bad but lazy, it is easy to critique, as it a movie that nails it. However, one of the most challenging parts of this job is when you get a film that a lot of passion has gone into its production, it has all the components needed to be amazing, and yet still it just does not come together. Today we look at just such a film with Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

So to set the scene, many years ago Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was an aspiring architect, winner of a MacArthur Grant, and a revolutionary in her field. However, today she is just a recluse living in an unfinished house in Seattle with her tech industry husband Elgin (Billy Crudup) and their daughter Bee (Emma Nelson). While she spends most of her life supporting her daughter and feuding with the neighbours like Audrey Griffin (Kristen Wiig). Things are about to change as Bee is about to leave for boarding school, and Bernadette’s past is about to catch up with her.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
There are moments when everything comes together, they are just few and far between. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Now, I think it is safe to say that I am going to be quite critical of this film, but that is not to say that a lot of work has gone into it, because it is clear that it has, nor that the people who made it didn’t have passion, they clearly did. Indeed there are a couple of moments when everything comes together, and you get to see the promise of what could have been. To begin with, when Cate is going full Katharine Hepburn it is a delight to watch her obliterate the scene. To add to this, her rapport with Emma is the heart of the film, and those moments genuinely do shine. Add some interesting sets, the backdrop of Greenland standing in for Antarctica, and there are some stand out moments. Unfortunately, they don’t last.

Now I need to be clear that I have not read the source material for this film, though I do understand that it is quite popular. That being said, it does feel that where this film falls down is in how it translates the novel to the big screen. The film goes out of its way to hold its cards close to its chest, while I am sure this was done to make that big reveal hit harder. What it does instead is make Bernadette into this unsympathetic character because her life fell apart because some dude installed palm trees next door. There is a point where the film wants to paint Elgin as the bad guy for wanting Bernadette to seek help believing that she could be suicidal. However, from his perspective, and the one the film has presented to us, that was a very reasonable step to take.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
The structure of the film might be one of the things holding it back. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

This inconsistency flows throughout the narrative leading to all its frustrating moments. For example, we know from the first moments of the film that Bernadette ends up going to Antarctica, however, the first half of the film’s narrative is all about will she or won’t she. Well she does, we already know that. This inconsistency hits most of the characters throughout the film like it makes no sense why you would be helping Bernadette out when all she has done is make your life difficult. It, unfortunately, feels like parts of the novel got lost in translation to the big screen.

In the end, do we recommend Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Unfortunately no. While it is clear that a lot of passion went into this film, the final product just does not come together, which is a real shame. If you liked Where’d You Go, Bernadette, we would also recommend to you Official Secrets.              

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias, and you can follow us
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Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Directed by
– Richard Linklater
Screenplay by – Richard Linklater, Holly Gent & Vince Palmo
Based onWhere’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Music by – Graham Reynolds & Sam Lipman
Cinematography by – Shane F. Kelly
Edited by – Sandra Adair
Production/Distribution Companies – Annapurna Pictures, Color Force, Detour Filmproduction, United Artists Releasing, eOne & Universal Pictures
Starring – Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Emma Nelson, Kristen Wiig, James Urbaniak, Judy Greer, Troian Bellisario, Zoë Chao, Laurence Fishburne, Claudia Doumit, Katelyn Statton, Steve Zahn, Megan Mullally, Richard Robichaux, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson & Kate Burton          
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 15; United States: PG-13


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