★★★★ - ARIZONA REPUBLIC
- Like many who will likely turn out to see Where’d You Go, Bernadette, I fell in love with the eccentric Bernadette Fox through the delicious best-selling novel by Maria Semple, which I gobbled up over a weekend last year. Yes, I’m one of those people who loves to read the book before seeing the movie. I was both excited to see Bernadette come to life via Cate Blanchett and worried what this adventure might look like on the silver screen.
Happily, I left the film satisfied with the retelling of this tale of self-discovery.
Like many Hollywood adaptations, it takes some liberties with the original plot, but it still holds true to the endearing charm of the book as Blanchett’s Bernadette takes the audience on an adventure from Seattle to Antarctica to reconnect with herself.
Lovable but a bit neurotic, Bernadette is a misfit in her wealthy Seattle neighborhood where she’s purchased, and promptly abandoned upkeep and renovation of, a former girls school where she lives with her brilliant Microsoft executive husband, Elgie (Billy Crudup), and middle-school daughter Bee (Emma Nelson). The dramedy follows the impact of Bernadette’s pent-up (and destroyed) artistic passion on herself, Elgie, Bee and Bernadette’s neighbor (Kristin Wiig).
Bernadette promised Bee a gift of her choice if she earns perfect grades in middle school, and Bee collects big by asking for a family vacation to Antarctica. Unable to tell her daughter no, the preparations for the trip cause Bernadette to unravel to the point of disappearance.
Blanchett nails the depth of Bernadette, from her eccentricity to the warmth of her relationship with her daughter Bee to the hostility she aims at the helicopter parents at Bee’s private school.
Crudup is delightful as Elgie, as is Wiig as Bernadette’s “gnat” neighbor. Without spoiling anything, some of the resolution of the issues between Bernadette these two characters feels a bit sudden.
Yet, overall the movie is a delightful escape with several laugh-out-loud moments. It’s definitely worth “girls night out” or “mom-and-daughter” trip to the movies.
- Melissa Yeager, ARIZONA REPUBLIC
Where'd You Go, Bernadette is now playing at Light House Petone, Cuba and Pauatahanui!