Ever since the ‘Before Sunrise’ series, I have followed Richard Linklater’s work, and to mixed results. There are films of his I love, but there are some that make me baffled (‘Last Flag Flying’ anyone?) His latest film, ‘Where’d you go, Bernadette’ falls somewhat in the middle, but I liked it more than probably a lot more people.
And I think that’s because of Cate Blanchette. Her character, Bernadette, is complex to say the least. She is eccentric, and quirky, but she is also fully-formed and you can sense that Blanchette knew this character very well, and is unapologetic about her and her flaws. In a sense, she celebrated them. And a great actress puts the character front and center in the performance. In this case, the character is front and center of the film. And that is the best best quality, and its biggest flaw. Bernadette is not easy to live with – she hates people who are not her family, but most times, you cannot blame her – her superficial neighborhood is a pain in the arse to keep up with. The plot will lead you to her disappearance – but we really see that Bernadette is running away from a version of herself. The story was always going to be a tough sell – I have not read it but I hear Maria Semple’s book is told from emails and text messages – but Linklater proves to be mostly successful in fleshing out the Bernadette character. I wish the people around her were drawn better – Billy Crudup is a snooze here – but Bernadette is enough for me to enjoy the film.