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Wherever You Go, Bernadette places the delirious 21st and centuries-old cycle of the epistolary novel. The story, which spans several continents and skips back and forth over a period of about 20 years, appears almost entirely through "primary documents": emails, faxes, blog posts, police reports, ship logs. Combining these archival fragments are passages from a first-person narrative of the protagonist, a 15-year-old Seattle girl who tries to solve the mystery of the abrupt disappearance of a socially concerned mother. The book fits neatly into a number of tones: the fading of social satire, ancient farce, psychological tension, heartfelt family drama. It all adds up to a sharp and funny portrait of a fascinating, maddening woman in the midst of a midlife crisis, as told by a teenager who, in real-time, discovers with the reader the long-hidden truth about her mother's past.
Wherever You Go, Bernadette to the screen would not seem to be the most obvious project for Richard Linklater, the director who was most successful when working on his own original screenplays. But if you look at his choices for his nearly 30-year career, Linklater pulls off as many stylistic changes as Semple, if never within a single work. He adapted stage plays ( Tape ) and real life crime stories ( Bernie ), directed a musical that later became a Broadway show ( Rock School experimented with avant-garde animation techniques of the time ( Awakening Life Scanner Dark ) and explored the possibilities of telling films with the 12-year-old childhood . Not to mention that his most remembered films – Stunning and confused trilogy before Divinity Slacker – all touch themes in the heart of Bernett ]: the pain and the excitement of being young. The melancholy of aging. The difficulty and need to remain true to others and to yourself in the face of the inevitable disappointments and losses of life.
Linklater's stylistic breadth of filmography and his ability to observe complex human relationships more than qualify him to undertake the ambitious task of translating the whole literary Where & # 39; d You Go, Bernadette into a work of cinema. But he is sometimes underestimated by a script (co-authored with director Holly Gent and Vincent Palmo Jr.) that smooths out some of the novel's most booming twists and floods the dark places of the story with too much sweetness and light.
Bernadette Fox (Kate Blanchett) and her daughter Bey (the charming newcomer Emma Nelson) have the kind of relationships that many mothers (even if they are not unique genius architects) and many daughters (even if they are not flute-play straight- And the students) will recognize: They get a sense of humor from each other, even when their nerves happen. Bernadette is a former architecture star who has long been awarded a MacArthur grant, which has not worked since her daughter was born. Stunned by the social demands of middle-class motherhood, she is relocated to a family-owned, abandoned ex-girlfriend school neglected that the blackberries grow across the boards.
Although warm and loving with her family, even the many daily tasks are too much for the antisocial Bernadette to handle: She assigns them to a virtual assistant in India, to whom she dictates long, cumbersome emails that prompt us to be furious her intelligence, as well as her chronic depression. But Bernadette never fails to get her daughter out of a school where other mothers miss her extreme snobbery introversion (which, to be fair, often looks like Bernadette's rush has to do with Seattle's hopeless province).
In exchange for graduating from high school with a perfect report card, Bee convinces her parents to take her on a trip to Antarctica during her Christmas break. Her father Elgin (Billy Crudeup) is more than a game to rest on his high-pressure job as a robotics engineer at Microsoft. But Bernadette is so terrified of the prospect of talking to other travelers, let alone of seasickness, that he is beginning to plan ways to get out of the trip. Meanwhile, the tension between Bernadette and her troubled neighbor Audrey (Kristen Weig) reaches a breaking point when they encounter blackberry plants that begin to invade Audrey's backyard.
In the novel Bernadette Fox, the absence of the story is to turn, the missing person from page 1. By contrast, the film Bernadette is on screen almost every minute. Even when her daughter and her husband have no idea where she is, the audience still accompanies her independent adventures. This change in focus really lessens the tension of the story, especially in the last third of the film, when the powers that hold Bee and her mother at times seem less fatal than merely logistical.
The rotating gears that fuel Bey's search for his mother – including, but not limited to, the Russian identity theft ring and the intriguing intrigue at Seattle's chic private school – have been minimized to a paradoxical effect to make the story no less, but more loaded. James Urbanyak appears too briefly as an FBI agent in charge of Bernadette's pursuit, Lawrence Fishburn receives one scene as his former architect colleague, and Judy Greer visits a therapist who visits Elgi to consult on what to do. fears that his wife's sliding is a mental illness. As the gossip mothers of two of Bee's classmates, Wiig and Zoe Chao provide exposure and comic relief, though both characters are devoid of the richer arcs that are given in the novel. As these initially different storylines intersect and converge, what should feel like skillfully orchestrated chaos begins to seem like a difficulty in the story.
We are used to seeing Kate Blanchett play bitches, weirdos and queens – women who are in full command of their power. It is a fascinating change to see her as an introverted and insecure middle-aged woman, someone who has lost faith in her ability not only to create but to cope. The mystery of Bernadette's disappearance may be solved too quickly and simply to lead the audience to the edge of their seats, but Blanchett's brazen and spicy performance keeps us engaged until the last moment in the secret of who Bernadette Fox is, even herself her.
The aspect of Linklater's book has chosen to focus, and the one he infuses with playfulness and warmth is the intricate link between an insufficient but loving mother and her devoted, if perhaps too responsible, child. Just as he did with Patricia Arquette in 1945,  The Divinity Linklater reasonably examines the ambivalence of a woman who wonders if she has committed herself too much to the work of a parent. The credits end with a dedication from Linklater's own mother, Diane, who died in 2017 and which he described as "my Bernadette". For all the mistakes of this movie, I can't wait to get my middle-aged daughter to see it; it is rare to find a film about mothers and daughters that neither sentimentalizes nor simplifies this all too often idealized relationship.