Film Letters

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Is Not Quite a Wreck

Maria Semple's novel is now a movie starring Cate Blanchett, and we have qualms.

By Seattle Met Staff August 16, 2019

Cate Blanchette stars as the titular Bernadette. 

Dear Where’d You Go, Bernadette movie,

We're not sure when, exactly, we started to worry.

Certainly, at first, we were delighted—Seattle skewered on the big screen. We love the book, an epistolary flurry of emails surrounding a neurotic Seattle architect and her family. We love Cate Blanchett and Kristen Wiig and Laurence Fishburne and Billy Crudup. We love Richard Linklater, and what other director could better match the material, freewheeling but real? Hell, we even love the studio, Annapurna Pictures.

But somewhere between the first release delay and the third or fourth, our guard came up. Or maybe it was when we saw the trailer, which plays like a Lifetime escape thriller. Certainly, by your opening shot, which immediately answers your title question, our escalating fear cemented into worry. We girded ourselves for a wreck.

How peculiar that you’re not, quite. The problem is that you aren’t quite anything. A comedy? Sometimes, and fitfully. A drama? Ditto. A family film? Not really. A film for adults? No. We know, we know: We’re supposed to see you for yourself, not your potential.

And you aren’t so terrible. Sometimes you come to life, flashing your wit. Kristen Wiig, as a status obsessed private school parent, coaxes some laughs, and no actor alive can dig into a neurotic monologue with Blanchett's fractious glee.

But then you again lose track of your narrative tension and your tone—jumping from maudlin to madcap—and your insight and, at a certain point, your production values. (How do people hang out in Antarctica, sitting on a rock beside goddamn glaciers, without so much as a rosy cheek from the cold? Where’s the snot? Billy Crudup took off his hat!) 

Anyway, we know you had a tough thing to do. We don’t hold it against you. But please, next time, invest in some snot. 

Seattle Met

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