You Go, Bernadette”
Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was a tremendously successful
architect in L.A. While still in her 20's.
She was creative, she was fearless, she was charming, and she was
celebrated as the next big “thing”.
And then, somehow, it all fell apart.
Except we, the viewers, don't really find that out except as a
backstory. The now-middle-aged
Bernadette Fox we are introduced to is a little bit loopy, somewhat
anti-social, keeps an unkempt house, and does her best to avoid all
contact with people other than her husband, Elgie (Billy Crudup) and her
15-year-old daughter, Bee (newcomer Emma Nelson).
When she does interact with her closest neighbor, Audrey (Kristen
Wiig, in an un-funny role), it's always a disaster.
Bernadette talks frequently to her virtual assistant, turning over
many daily tasks, like shopping and scheduling appointments.
What Bernadette didn't know is that the whole virtual assistant
program is a cover-up for an identity theft ring.
Bernadette also didn't know that her husband was becoming so
concerned about her erratic behavior that he schedules an
“intervention,” featuring a psychologist who encourages her to
voluntarily commit herself, an FBI agent ready to expose the identity
theft ring, and to make matters more embarrassing, Elgie's new
administrative assistant from his high-powered job at Microsoft.
Yes, Elgie has been working on a technology involving a patch
placed on the forehead that can actually transmit our thoughts to the
written word. The techie-geeky
employees are applauding the advance, but some of us in the movie audience
are shuddering at the prospect.
Bernadette is shuddering at the prospect of an Antartic trip, which
her daughter Bee had proposed for the three of them, Mom, Dad, and
daughter, as a send-off present to her before she trundles off to boarding
school, as her parents had done. Bernadette
is not only afraid of being seasick, she is terrified of being around so
many strangers. What
Bernadette doesn't yet realize is that her pent-up anxiety really has to
do with suppressing her creative side since the birth of her daughter.
She's an artist without an outlet, and it's not only making her
uncomfortable in her own skin, it's affecting those around her.
Eventually, we do wind up in Antartica, with lots of shots of
penguins and a few of seals, but somewhere in the icy desolation,
Bernadette finds the inspiration for a new creative outlet:
a station specifically designed for that forbidding climate.
It's a strange kind of happy-for-now ending, because it involves a
several-week separation, but what we're really celebrating here is the
idea that if you love someone, you want for them to find their
fulfillment, as well, even if it doesn't directly involve you.
Well, it's not exactly romantic, but it is affirming of committed
relationships, which itself is rare enough in 21st-century Hollywood.
Kudos to Cate Blanchett for a multi-layered, multi-faceted
performance that conveys a complicated character compellingly.