‘Beautifully Told Story’ Loses Steam With Romantic Worldview
NOTE: This is a portion of our review of WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?, which is now in theaters. For the full review, including a breakdown of content, violence, sex, language and nudity, click here.
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE follows a formerly very successful architect navigating her life and family problems after what she considers to be a great failure. WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a sweet, well-told story about a family trying to be there for each other, but it has a Romantic worldview with a slightly excessive amount of foul language, some brief drug references and examples of dysfunctional behavior.
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE takes place in Seattle, Washington, after Bernadette Fox and her husband, Elgin Branch, moved there from Los Angeles almost 20 years ago. They have a daughter, Bee, in high school now, and Bee’s just been accepted to one of the best prep schools on the East Coast. Exceptionally close with Bee, Bernadette is feeling quite emotional about this big move, but is trying her best to be happy for her daughter. Because Bee got into this school, she asked her parents for a congratulations present: to go on a family cruise to Antarctica. Although her parents agree, this immediately terrifies Bernadette, sending her through waves of new anxiety. Bernadette has already been dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety for the past 20 years, and this trip isn’t making it any better. She has a hard time dealing with crowds, or individual people, doesn’t like to leave the house much, and hasn’t worked on what she loves in years.
When a stranger comes up to Bernadette expresses what her work has done for her life, viewers learn Bernadette was once the up and coming, hot new architect in town. She was in Los Angeles, creating innovative new ideas, and thriving in her life and art. She had the honor of receiving the Macarthur Genius Grant and was the designing architect of an amazing project that won multiple awards. However, something happened right around the time that she met her husband that sent Bernadette spiraling into a black hole of depression and anxiety.
Of course, her husband, Elgin, is very concerned for Bernadette, especially when he finds her asleep on a couch in a pharmacy. Elgin consults a therapist for help. When they’re ready for an intervention, he also finds out that the personal assistant from India Bernadette has been using is actually a front for a Russian identity theft organization that has taken all of their information after Bernadette unknowingly disclosed it to them. Now that dangerous Russians are after their family, the FBI is knocking at their door, and Bernadette doesn’t know what else to do but to run away. The trip to Antarctica is the next day, but Bernadette is nowhere to be found.
However, the following day, Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, is out walking the dog when the neighbor informs her that she drove Bernadette to the airport because she wanted to make sure to join her family on their trip. In the past, Bernadette solved her problems by disappearing. That’s what’s she done now, and her family has no other choice but to go after her. Panicking, Bee and her father immediately pack their bags and set off to find Bernadette. Eventually, it turns out that the things giving Bernadette the most anxiety are the things that could help heal her the most.
This story is beautifully told by all the filmmakers involved and carried out seamlessly by the cast. What is meant to be humorous is funny, what is meant to be uncomfortable is almost cringing, and what is meant to be sweet is quite endearing. Although this family has been through so much, the love they have for each other is very clear. Bernadette’s husband feels lost in their marriage, but he gets her help rather than give up on her. It’s almost impossible for actress Cate Blanchett to disappoint an audience. She easily embodies the neurotic title character with lots of grace. The movie does follow a primarily Romantic worldview, however, with creative and artistic expression being the solution to the problems at hand. No one looks to God or biblical values for any kind of guidance. WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE also has an excessive number of obscenities and profanities, brief drug references, and examples of dysfunctional behavior. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.