Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

Your Word of the Day: Agoraphobic.

Definition: A disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives his or her environment to be unsafe with no easy way to escape.

In “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” Bernadette Fox is agoraphobic. She dreads leaving her home even to go to the school her daughter attends.

A successful architect, married to a brilliant Microsoft exec, a proud mom, you’d think Bernadette has it all. But she is wracked with anxieties. She is struggling to adjust to her life in Seattle. Hates all the mothers of her daughter’s friends (“gnats,” she calls them). Is exasperated by the way the streets in Seattle are laid out. And dislikes Canadians.

When her daughter reminds Bernadette of a deal they’d made – if Bee got straight A’s, her parents would take her on a trip to Antarctica – Bernadette’s anxieties increase. Wow! Talk about leaving the house.

So why be surprised when Bernadette disappears just before the proposed trip? As the title asks, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”

Her daughter Bee is determined to discover her mother’s whereabouts.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is currently showing at Tropic Cinema.

One of our favorite actresses, Cate Blanchett takes on the neurotic persona of Bernadette. Cate has proven she can play wonky characters with “Blue Jasmine.” And she tread a similar path in “The Gift.” We suspect Blanchette could play an elf … or a snake … or even Bob Dylan. (Oh, wait, she did play all that in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle,” and “I’m Not There.”)

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is ably directed by Richard Linklater, the guy who gave us “Dazed and Confused,” “Boyhood,” and the “Before Sunrise, etc.” films.

He based this outing on the same-named novel by Maria Semple. She’s the daughter of legendary Hollywood screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. The novel spent a year on the New York Times bestseller list, won the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. A good pedigree.

In addition to Blanchett as Bernadette, Linklater selected Emma Nelson to play daughter Bee. And he rounded out the cast with a strong lineup: Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Megan Mullally, and Laurence Fishburne.

The mystery of Bernadette’s disappearance is told from the viewpoint of her bright and endlessly curious daughter.

Depending on your mindset, you will find Bernadette’s idiosyncrasies delightful … or just plain crazy.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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