In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she’s alive. (IMDB)
Writer: Richard Linklater
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Popcorn Score: Large Popcorn
The story of the best man that ever lived in the west Texas and what it took for him to snap. It is brilliantly played by Jack Black who gives an unprecedented performance in “Bernie”. Based on a true story coming from a small town Texas, the movie uses the real life colorful characters of the town that knew the actual Bernie Tiede to help in its narration. It is an interesting mixture of the dark comedy/documentary genres by filmmaker Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset), bouncing back and forth from the actors depicting the story, and the real townsfolk explaining their memories.
Bernie was new to the town when he started at the local funeral home as assistant funeral director but it took very little time for everyone in the small west Texas town to warm up to him. His charm, charisma, singing voice, and all around care for others made him beloved to everyone from the start. With quite a bit of time and effort he even won over the old wealthy widow Marjorie Nugent, a snarly old woman who no one could stand. The two began to build a close relationship in which she would provied for Bernie but also be crul, demanding and controling. She ultimately was the one who changed Bernie’s life as he knew it. During a moment of weakness when he allowed her evil nature to win over his blessed spirit, he kills her and then spends months covering up her death. It is not until a local attorney digs in a little deeper and uncovers the truth and sends Bernie to a trial for murder. The only problem for the DA is that he is such a beloved man by all, in the small town they live in, he would never get a jury of Bernie’s peers to convict him.
Renting the movie on a whim after reading or hearing next to nothing about the film, I was delighted to find such a hidden gem! Jack Black gives a performance of the year in a role that is nothing like we have seen from him before. The movie skips along with comedy and music all while circulating around the overall theme of murder. Matthew McConaughey also is a breath of fresh air playing the DA fighting an uphill battle to get a conviction in what should have been a slam dunk case!
I wish I could say the best place to find this movie as it is now through with its quick stints in both the theaters and the Redbox, but find this movie wherever you can, and enjoy!