Based on the hit 2012 novel by Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? follows the life of Bernadette Fox, at one time a highly regarded architect who, over the past two decades, has lost herself.
Along the way, she has become an agoraphobic and a misanthropic matriarch whose frustration with her Seattle life thrums just below the surface of her seemingly perfect
existence as the spouse of a successful Microsoft genius.
Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette, with Billy Crudup as her adoring husband, Elgie, and Emma Nelson as their perky 14-year-old daughter, Bee. All possess Einstein-level IQs and share a particular collective weirdness.
One day, Bee sees a video about her mother and learns that she was once the most exciting person in the world of revolutionary architecture. In a voice over, Bee insightfully lays down the bare bones of this original and poignant story: “I think what happened to my mom is that she got so focused on her family, she forgot about herself.”
Annoyance upon annoyance piles up in Bernadette’s life, mainly from tightly wound neighbor Audrey (Kristen Wiig) and several irritating parents from Bee’s prestigious boarding school.
But one day Bernadette receives encouragement from a longtime fan (Laurence Fishburne), who declares, “People like you must create. If you don’t, you become a menace to society.”
Fate subsequently offers Bernadette a chance to launch a “second act,” and in time she proudly proclaims, “Step aside, ‘cause I’m about to kick the hell out of life!”
Shortly before a Christmastime family trip, she embarks on a journey of personal discovery by running away from home (she sneaks out a bathroom window) and embracing the challenge of a daunting but worthwhile project in Antarctica.
Elgie and Bee set out to track Bernadette down after she disappears; in the process, they experience their own adventure as they end up peeling back layer after surprising layer
of her past.
The Annapurna Pictures release is the latest project from Richard Linklater, best known for 2014’s Oscar-winning Boyhood. Linklater co-wrote the script along with the team of Holly Gent Palmo and Vincent Palmo, Jr. (Me and Orson Welles).
Throughout the production, Blanchett felt intimately connected to her character and told Entertainment Weekly, “I think so many women relate to Bernadette. She’s someone who has been eaten alive by failure and buried her creative identity in child rearing. Haven’t we all thought at one point, ‘Oh, [expletive], this mess is all too much. Wouldn’t it just be easiest to disappear?”