She climbed out through the bathroom window. What Bernadette realizes when she sees the monumental mess she has created is that she has also discovered the passage to her resurrection. Even though she learns that she can't run away from herself, Bernadette Fox finds that a long-dormant former self wants to be let back into the game.
Richard Linklater's latest film is based on Maria Semple's bestselling novel that has an epistolary structure, in which letters and emails are the means by which Bernadette's daughter and husband try to find her. That narrative device is completely absent in the film adaptation by Holly Gent and Vincent Palmo Jr. ( Me and Orson Welles ). The entire first half of the film is dedicated to showing us Bernadette in the flesh and the pile-up of events that preceded her momentary departure.
The magnificent Cate Blanchett embodies Bernadette, a MacArthur grant recipient and former superstar in the field of architecture who has retreated into anonymous domesticity in Seattle with her Microsoft superstar husband, Elgin (Crudup), and savvy daughter, Bee (Nelson), with whom she shares an especially close bond. The family lives in a big, old house that used to be a reform school. The ceilings leak, and the blackberry brambles are encroaching on the property's foundations ̵
After spending much of his career making films that focus on the concerns of young people, it's interesting to see Linklater's last couple of movies looking at issues related to middle age. Vietnam's reuniting for a new domestic mission is the focus of Last Flag Flying . Although Boyhood ostensibly follows 12 years of a Texas kid's maturation, it was Patricia Arquette, who plays the boy's mother, who was recognized with a Best Actress Oscar for her work. Bernadette has lost her creative spark; the great promise of her youth is all but lost by her middle years. In his own middle years as a filmmaker, Bernadette's situation perhaps strikes a chord with Linklater. Undeniably, this is his first film featuring a solo female lead.
One of Linklater's greatest filmmaking instincts involves his casting decisions. Newcomer Emma Nelson is a real find as Bernadette's daughter. Although Blanchett's performance seems a bit inferior and slightly reminiscent of her Oscar-winning performance in Blue Jasmine these are hardly flaws when the outcome is so riveting. Wiig beautifully toes a difficult line between drama and comedy. A line similar to the one etched by this film: an emotional crisis mixed with laughs.