Updated: Mar 6, 2020
As someone who loves to travel in person or by movies, I relish one answer about the destination of the title character in "Where'd You Go, Bernadette." Antarctica. Given the region's striking ice flows and adorable penguins, even an aim-and-shoot pocket camera photographer should get good images from the striking blue and white hues of the region.
A cinematic pro like Boyhood Director Richard Linklater ups the ante in his movie version of the bestselling book, showcasing the extreme southern section of the world with gorgeous cinematography. Besides Antarctica, the director benefits by casting the disappearing Bernadette as Cate Blanchett, always a fine choice when you need a fearless actress to blend positive and negative traits while maintaining audience empathy. Thoughtless at times, often rude or inconsiderate, Bernadette's genius level skills also come with a loving heart, at least for those in her inner circle. Whether ranting about life, confidently making a spiteful decision, or fearfully running from a complement, Blanchett shows Bernadette as a woman full of conundrums and complications.
Bernadette's challenges never involve mainstream movie adventures with guns or sex, leading to a film that marketers found hard to pigeonhole which may explain the project's delay from its original release date. The movie also missed out on awards hype since not every aspect of the screenplay holds together tightly, despite Linklater's track record as an independent auteur specializing in dialogue-laden works like the "Before Sunset" series.
Despite a few lagging rough spots, Bernadette's story provides sufficient substance to stay absorbing throughout as it explores not just the location Bernadette visits, but such issues as empty-nest syndrome along with artistic and mental blocks that stifle personality. Bernadette's antics and adventures mix a lot of talk with impressive visuals, worth watching to find answers about destinations, both physical and mental.
This review was originally aired on 8/23/2019.
You can listen to it online at kunr.org/post/whered-you-go-bernadette#stream/0