Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Where'd You Go, Bernadette [2019]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (H. Rupprecht) review
Los Angeles Times (K. Turan) review (M. Castillo) review
AVClub (J. Hessenger) review

Where'd You Go, Bernadette [2019] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Richard Linklater along with Holly Gent and Vince Palmo, based on the novel [GR] by Maria Semple [wikip] [GR] [IMDb]), though marketed as a Comedy is NOT REALLY that.  It's a Dramedy, I suppose, but it's serious enough to not really be funny at all.

The film is about Bernadette Fox (played quite thoughtfully by Kate Blanchett) a 40 something once promising young architect (in "sunny Southern California") who for reasons that become increasingly clear, left that world to marry a random if quite successful "development engineer" ("heading his own team...") working for Microsoft named Elgie (played by Billy Crudup).  So together they live in a rainy but wealthy enclave of Seattle among other highly educated 30 and 40 somethings and the two have a lively and almost necessarily naive teenage daughter named Bee (played by Emma Nelson). 

It's a wet golden cage.

And after the drip, drip, drip of the torment of clearly somehow previously frustrated dreams, Bernadette is ready to ... well, you get the picture.

Everything is still presented in a remarkably _gentle_ way (mediated by large amounts of money that most of the film's Viewers will not have), but ... a comedy?  No, there are some real issues being lifted up here.

Further, PG-13 rating notwithstanding, it's not really a film for kids or teenagers either.  It's for the Parents and deals with the central challenge articulated by Freud a century ago: balancing the fulfillment of obligation and desire.

What can religion (not present in the film at all) to the mix?  That (1) God does want us to be happy and (2) God doesn't care if we come to be "important" because God does love us all.  Finally, (3) as St. John Paul II already noted in his second encyclical Laborem Exercens (On the Dignity of Work) we were created by God to create.  It simply isn't good for us to "do nothing" no matter how rich or poor we are. 

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