Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Critics Consensus

Where'd You Go, Bernadette offers dispiriting proof that a talented director, bestselling source material, and terrific cast can add up to far less than the sum of their parts.



Total Count: 158


Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 1,528
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Movie Info

Based on the runaway bestseller, Where'd You Go, Bernadette is an inspiring comedy about Bernadette Fox (Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett), a loving mom who becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Bernadette's leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.


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Critic Reviews for Where'd You Go, Bernadette

All Critics (158) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (83)

  • As Bernadette, Cate Blanchett is forced to do the work that Linklater doesn't devote to developing the story or characters.

    Aug 26, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The script is an insult to the principle of adaptation: All that is good in the plot has been excised in favor of the shortest route to a happy ending.

    Aug 20, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette feels like it could have been a great film; the final result is not that, but it's at least a distinctive mess.

    Aug 19, 2019 | Full Review…
  • [Linklater] can't find a suitable form for Maria Semple's patchwork best seller...

    Aug 16, 2019 | Full Review…
  • As troublesome and overstuffed as Blanchett's performance might be, it's also one of the few interesting things going on in this troublesome and overstuffed misfire of a book adaptation.

    Aug 16, 2019 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

    Oliver Jones

    Top Critic
  • Notably, this is the first Linklater movie to feature a solo female lead, and Bernadette instantly emerges as one of the most vibrant and complex characters in the director's filmography.

    Aug 16, 2019 | Full Review…

    Justin Chang

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  • Sep 08, 2019
    ICE QUEEN - My Review of WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE (3 1/2 Stars) Richard Linklater, one of the most humanistic filmmakers working today, has often explored such themes as time, aging, or the benchmarks in ones lives, such as the last day of High School (Dazed And Confused), a first date (Before Sunrise), or the entire breadth of a child's life (Boyhood). His films often feel unstructured, laid back and unforced. It's strange then to see him play in the James L. Brooks/Cameron Crowe sandbox with his adaptation of Maria Semple's epistolary novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, but that's not automatically a bad thing. Co-written with Holly Gent and Vincent Palmo Jr., Linklater seems out of his element with this part-sitcom, part psycho-drama about a stifled genius. Still, he manages to deliver a moving experience helped immeasurably by Cate Blanchett's fantastic title performance. Bernadette lives in a dilapidated Seattle mansion with her Microsoft tech genius husband Elgie (Billy Crudup) and their adorable teenage daughter Bee (Emma Nelson). As a reward to Bee for a successful report card, they agree to take her on a family trip to Antarctica. Trouble is, over the years, Bernadette, a once famous architect, has transformed into a shut-in who hates people, especially taking it out on her next door neighbor, Audrey (Kristen Wiig). Deeply troubled, Bernadette spends most of her time barking orders at Manjula, her virtual assistant in India, who arranges for everything to come to her door in package after package. Getting her out of the house and to the most remote place on earth seems unlikely. It takes quite a while for the themes to coalesce, with the first act focusing on her feud with Audrey. Wiig excels with her tightly wound Mean Girl character and works well with Blanchett. I wondered, however, what this had to do with Antarctica and why we were spending so much time on this wayward plot strand. The story, however, slowly reveals itself to be about what becomes of an artist who no longer creates. She acts out, makes bad decisions, and directs her anger at everyone. For a while, you laugh along with Bernadette as she takes out some easy targets. It culminates in a great scene in which Bernadette and Bee gang up on Audrey to take her down a peg. A lesser film would have left it at that, leaving a bad taste in my mouth to see women hurting each other. It wisely chooses to move beyond that scene and give these three women more dimensions than presented at first. Crudup also impressed me with his long-suffering husband character. He could have easily played Elgie as an entitled husband who wants his wife to "behave", but instead he offers a soulful person who loves his wife yet can't figure out how to navigate her towards happiness. Emma Nelson also excels as the kind of incredibly cool daughter you'd want to hang with as friends, but who also clearly needs a more solid foundation in which to grow. Unlike the somewhat goofy trailer, the film has a much more somber tone in keeping with its rainy, Pacific Northwest setting. Disappointingly, it's Linklater's least flashy directing job of his career. The closest film this resembles is Ben Stiller's The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, another story about a character drowning in self-loathing. Whereas Stiller went for intense visual flourishes, Linklater merely delivers coverage. Still, I felt something here, despite a certain flatness and a ridiculous series of events involving such disparate things as penguins, FBI investigations, mudslides, kayaks, online scams, and potential office affairs. It's a LOT to take in, but Blanchett anchors it with someone cold, nihilistic, yet relatable. It may all come off as champagne problems, ("Oh darn, should we go to Antarctica?" "Did I order too many vests from the catalogue?" "That flood ruined my expensive oak floors!") but Blanchett makes you care just the same.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Aug 18, 2019
    Thematically its a mess, but there are some fantastic scenes. Ultimately Blanchett saves this movie, giving one of her best performances here.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2019
    I have no idea who Where Did You Go, Bernadette? is for. It's based upon a best-selling book, directed and adapted by Richard Linklater (Boyhood), and starring great actors, chief among them Cate Blanchett in the title role. After a half hour, I kept wondering why I wasn't engaged with what was happening, why everything felt so directionless, and I'm still looking for answers. I felt like the movie was gaslighting me because so many characters devote so much time to preach that Bernadette is the worst. She's no rabble-rousing outsider setting fire to the world; she's just a quirky out-of-work architect with some undiagnosed mental illness. Yet the other people want to convince me that she's anti-social, that she's mean, that she's ruinous, and I just never saw much evidence on screen. This is symptomatic of the movie's problem of characters talking in declarative statements, telling the audience things we need to know, but rarely do we see these events. It felt like I was watching a movie where everyone else had seen some prequel and was relying on that information, leaving me out of the loop to catch up. It felt like I was being talked at. The movie feels like it's lacking a spark and a workable tone. It feels like it's presenting quirk but without whimsy, so things are recognized as offbeat and just left there alone. Thank God for Blanchett, who delivers a sturdy and great performance as a woman losing her sense of self and trying to follow her passions. She's funny, defiant, vulnerable, and has the dramatic potential to be even more involving. An extended third act in Antarctica feels like the movie is just biding its time for a reunion, something that already feels low stakes given that everyone is on the same page and would eventually find one another. The pacing of the movie and its slipshod structure contribute to its sluggish sense of direction and a whopping 130 minutes. Where Did You Go, Bernadette? wants us to believe that Bernadette is self-absorbed, or everyone else is self-absorbed, or that passions are worth chasing even to the opposite ends of the Earth. I don't know. It's a mildly amusing comedy with some dramatic moments but I wouldn't be surprised if this quickly vanishes from theaters and few if any will be asking where exactly it went. Nate's Grade: C
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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