The Dove Take:
Where’d You Go, Bernadette takes viewers on an Antarctic adventure with Bernadette’s family after the architect-turned-full-time mom disappears into cold air. The film is an endearing and humorous study in emotional health and family dynamics, but (for Dove purposes) is marred by some instances of profanity.
A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.
Twenty years ago, Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was a renowned, stellar architect in L.A., but after the demolition of one of her important structures and the birth of her sickly, but brilliant daughter, Bee Branch (Emma Nelson), she abandoned all creative ventures in order to care for her family. Though Bernadette orchestrates time and life around caring for Bee, something remains unearthed, a blink of nervousness that unveils who she truly is: an apprehensive, anxious mother who hides behind her sunglasses and scarf to dodge the other private-school kids’ moms.
Bernadette blends into the background until Bee announces that she’s redeeming her parents’ promise of granting any wish for her perfect grades. Bee wants a family vacation to Antarctica, which means Bernadette will have to be around people! To complicate emotions, Bee leaves for boarding school soon and Bernadette is informed that she must visit the “looney bin” for psychiatric help, which means she would miss the Antarctica trip. But her husband, Elgie (Billy Crudup), and Bee are surprised to find that Bernadette has taken wing to Antarctica without them, and the adventure begins.
The family’s loving relationship is the glue of the film. Though Bernadette and Elgie have slowly drifted apart, their deep-seated love remains and ultimately heals and reunites them. The issue of mental health is woven inextricably into the story as Bernadette battles against anxiety and insomnia throughout the film. She slowly realizes that stifling her creativity over the years has had toxic effects. So, when she falls into an opportunity to design a South Pole exploration station, she is torn. Can she remain in Antarctica for the months to come?
Where’d You Go, Bernadette’s stunning glacial scenery is representative of the movie’s overall superior production values. Though marketed as a mother-daughter film, Blanchett’s intricate creation of the role is pleasant for a male audience too. Unfortunately, an unnecessary sprinkling of profanity makes this film not Dove-approved.