Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

When I saw the previews of this movie, I rolled my eyes. It looked awful. Another midlife crisis. Even if women are now getting more screen time, this is not a story that interested me.

Later I discovered Linklater directed. And I’ve always admired the work of Cate Blanchett. So on the [16th] day of triple digit temps accompanied by high humidity, I thought it was a good way to kill a couple of hours in air-conditioned darkness. And it was a treat.

I enjoyed it. The performances were excellent. The mother/daughter relationship didn’t dip into stereotypical conflict. And getting a grumpy, caustic, main character who is a woman is refreshing. Women, too, can be lovable (even if only by a few) while being unlikeable.

The plot is thin…but then Linklater’s film are never about plot. And it’s without his usual display of some virtuoso cinematic device (like shooting it all in one shot, or over ten years). Except that we begin toward the end and then get the ubiquitous (5 months earlier) beginning, this is all very straightforward storytelling.

I read afterward that Linklater’s focus on Bernadette disappointed fans of the book…which was apparently more focused on the daughter’s search for her mother, more of a mystery. Not having read the book, the movie satisfied me. I didn’t see the title as a question of where did Bernadette suddenly disappear to (which is answered in the first shot of the movie). I took the title more figuratively…where did Bernadette go during these intervening years of withdrawal after her professional disappointment? She was an up-and-coming architect who stopped working. Bernadette was “gone” a long time before she physically departed out a bathroom window.

Bottom Line: It was just what I needed on a hot summer day.


Anthony Lane, The New Yorker review Says it better than I did but I’m glad I read it after watching the movie.

From “Slacker” (1990) onward, Linklater has been at his most fruitful when hanging out in his native Texas, so it’s disorienting, to say the least, that his latest film should begin at the bottom of the world.

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker