Boyhood, the groundbreaking twelve-years-in-the-making family drama, might prove a hard act for director Richard Linklater to follow considering the film’s near unanimous critical praise and six Academy Award nominations. Yet the iconic auteur (whose previous work includes Slacker, Dazed and Confused and the Before Sunrise trilogy) doesn’t seem to want to rest on his laurels. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Linklater may be circling another unconventional family drama – Where’d You Go Bernadette, a film adaptation of Maria Semple’s 2012 best-selling novel.
If Linklater officially signs on to the project, this actually wouldn’t be his first Boyhood follow-up – that will be the already-wrapped baseball coming-of-age film That’s What I’m Talking About, slated to open some time this year courtesy of Paramount Pictures – yet it may be one of the most ambitious efforts yet for the Austin-native filmmaker. Where’d You Go Bernadette - with a screenplay by the (500) Days of Summer writing team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – revolves around Bernadette Branch, an architect and mother who goes missing before a planned family trip to Antarctica. The novel is narrated by Bernadette’s daughter – a fifteen-year-old girl named Bee and unfolds through a series of unconventional devices that included e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, and psychiatric correspondences. Megan Ellison is set to produce the film through her AnnaPurna Pictures company (which is also handling That’s What I’m Talking About).
While not confirmed for the movie, Linklater has reportedly expressed interest in directing. He may prove a good fit for Where’d You Go Bernadette, especially considering his sensitive and thoughtful essay of motherhood exhibited by Patricia Arquette’s character in Boyhood. This past weekend Arquette won an Academy Award for her critically acclaimed performance – the only Oscar the film received. Linklater earned nominations for directing, writing, and producing on Boyhood and picked up directing trophies from the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Critics’ Choice Awards. While primarily known for his original works, Linklater has previously made films based on preexisting material, including A Scanner Darkly (based on the Philip K. Dick novel) and Fast Food Nation (based on Eric Schlosser’s non-fiction book).
Either way, Where’d You Go Bernadette may be a project worth keeping on eye on, particularly notable for the complex female characters that headline the piece.