I read many reviews for this movie that said that Cate Blanchette was the wrong choice to play Bernadette, an architect who gave up her career to raise her daughter. These reviewers wanted Cate’s performance to be vulnerable, maybe even weaker. I disagree with these reviews wholeheartedly.
The film tells the story of an up and coming architect who was so inventive that they made documentaries about her short lived career. When Bernadette married and had a daughter, she withdrew from public life and stopped designing. After 16 years, she has lost herself to depression that isn’t helped by her introverted awkwardness. Her husband is oblivious until it becomes apparent that Bernadette needs help.
It isn’t until Bernadette runs from her life to Antarctica and unexpectedly finds new inspiration for the work she long ago gave up. Along the way we find out that she had several miscarriages before her daughter was born and that the last house she designed (which won awards for its design) was torn down by a wealthy neighbor who paved a parking lot in place of it.
As an artist, and an introvert, I find Cate Blanchette’s performance to be just about perfect. You can be vulnerable, depressed and introverted and still be strong and stubborn. Those traits may not seem like they fit together, but sometimes they coexist with a tug of war that makes life interesting.
I was never a huge fan of Richard Linklater’s brand of film (A Scanner Darkly and Boyhood really set my teeth on edge) but he has me convinced with Bernadette. Maybe I should give his other films a chance – except the two I just mentioned.