Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Where’d You Go Bernadette is Richard Linklater’s screen adaptation of the ‘runaway bestseller’ by author Maria Semple. Before I start, it is important to point out that I have not read the book and, thus, cannot comment on the film’s faithfulness to it. That being said, any screenwriter with an ounce of integrity sees it their duty to honour the source material. Well, they should (I can say that because I am a screenwriter. And I was top of my class in Adaptation for Screen. So there *blows raspberry*). Moving on.
You expect a certain benchmark in acting and story when you see the names Cate Blanchett and Laurence Fishburne in the cast credits. And this film delivers. Blanchett plays the frosty, antisocial and sarcastic lead role, Bernadette (no points for guessing). It is a quirky, layered and endearing performance, speckled with seemingly effortless nuances of humour.
The film is a character driven piece that explores mental illness, specifically anxiety, and its effects on life, loved ones and ambitions. Could it have explored it a little deeper? Possibly. Would that have suited the film’s tone? Possibly not.
Bernadette is cleverly personified by her run down, crumbling house, hinting quirkiness and creativity almost concealed by a wall of prickles (in this case blackberries). A great piece of visual storytelling, but one that makes you wonder if some of the voice over narration is really necessary. I can only imagine it was to capture some of the essence of the book that couldn’t be conveyed visually or via dialogue.
One of my main problems was that the film does take a wee while to get cracking. I only really became interested 40 minutes in, which is quite a long time. I was beginning to wonder if I was in for a bumpy ride.
However, the bristling relationship between Bernadette and her prudish, nagging and snooty neighbour, Audrey, is where the film really starts to pick up. Audrey does verge on a caricature that we have seen many times before, but is well played and their clashes provide a lot of the film’s humour.
It says a lot for the film when my biggest gripe is that Americans (and apparently Australians pretending to be Americans) can’t seem to pronounce Antarctica properly. And Antarctica is mentioned a lot… Towards the end of the film I actually found myself shouting “It’s AnTarctica, not fucking Anarctica for fuck sake!” I genuinely cheered the one cast member who said it properly… It probably says more about me than it does the film. Have at me.
Anyway, go watch this. It’s a pretty good, after the first 40 minutes.
Rating: M Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over.
GEEKERY rating: 3.5/5