A profoundly serious film despite its lighthearted surface tone, Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel is a critical (if characteristically humane) assessment of American society in spiritual crisis. Cate Blanchett stars as the title character, a trailblazing architect who hasn’t designed anything in two decades; when the movie begins, she’s on the verge of emotional collapse, addicted to a variety of prescription drugs, and making enemies with the women in her neighborhood’s improvement league. Bernadette remains a caring wife and mother, but her closest confidante is a paid assistant based in India with whom she communicates via text message. Linklater depicts the heroine’s terminal self-involvement wittily and sympathetically, making her problems (obsessing over routines, dreading face-to-face communication, and generally feeling stuck) resemble exaggerated versions of what many people experience in everyday American life circa 2019. He doesn’t see these problems as insurmountable, however, and this optimism is both winning and refreshing. The ensemble supporting cast—which features Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, and Laurence Fishburne—is wonderful as well.