In Brief: A family in crisis story with rich, deep characters that will definitely be on my 2019 best of the year list.
Richard Linklater is one of the industry’s most interesting directors. He has an almost unrivaled ability to create characters in chaos and make them believable. Boyhood is a great example. It is a brilliant 12-year project that ended up winning two Golden Globes and deserved the screenplay and best picture Oscars given to Birdman.
He’s also done some of my favorite arthouse films. Among them are the little seen Me & Orson Welles, A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life. His commercial stuff — School of Rock and even the Bad News Bears redo — isn’t bad either.
Bernadette is based on a novel by Maria Semple. I’m told if you’ve read the novel you’ll like the movie but might not love it like those that haven’t. Since I’m a haven’t, I love the movie.
Linklater’s adaptation casts Cate Blanchett as Bernadette. Brilliant and eccentric, eons ago she was the hottest of the hot in architectural circles. Things happen, and Bernadette, workaholic husband Elgie and daughter Bee end up rebuilding dilapidated old Catholic orphanage in Seattle. The film picks up their lives a few weeks before a family trip to Antarctica. Daughter Bee opens the film with a narration that explains the movie’s set up, her mom’s mental crisis and more.
The “and more” is filled in with some of the best acting I’ve seen this year. Blanchett — who’s won two Oscars and three Golden Globes — again proves why she’s one of the best ever at her craft.
She bing-bongs through emotions like electrons in one of those universe-studying colliders. Up and down she goes and takes her daughter, her husband and the neighbor down the hill with her. It’s great work.
So is the supporting acting of Billy Crudup (Alien: Covenant, Jackie) who plays her husband and Emma Nelson’s performance as Bee.
The real star of the film — however — is Linklater. He is the architect of a movie about a troubled architect. And for his trouble, he’ll no doubt get Oscar and Golden Globe nominations along with his stellar cast. His usual, and expected intelligent dialogue and deeply developed characters drive the movie. Linklater is also a very, very good director and storyteller. He lets this screenplay and his characters breathe.
As for you, there is no need to wonder where Bernadette is this weekend. If you’re tired of the usual movie fare — big budgets, explosions, battles and fighting — and are looking for something a bit more cerebral, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is in a theater near you.
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Emma Nelson, Kristin Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Zahn, Megan Mullally, Troian Bellisisario
The title asks where Burnadette went. We all know. She’s in a theater near you and if you want to catch one of the best films of the year, you’ll be there, too. Where’d You Go, Bernadette gets a well-deserved 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
Click here for theaters and show times.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.