Monday, May 21, 2012


Bernie is a bizarre little movie calling together some very good and some great talents. What’s even more bizarre is that it’s based on a true story. If you don’t want to know the “secret” of the film, don’t read the next several paragraphs. Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is an assistant funeral director in the small and rural town of Carthage, Texas. Everybody loves Bernie. The guy was everywhere: teaching Sunday school, singing in the church choir, directing school plays. It came as no surprise to everyone when he befriended Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a widow who lost her husband recently, but who was as sour on life as she was rich. People figured Marjorie got the best part of this friendship until Bernie killed her. Bernie was able to hide the body until the sheriff (Matthew McConaughey), Marjorie’s estranged sister, and Marjorie’s stockbroker found the body five months later. Everyone who has reviewed the film says this is Jack Black’s best acting, because he plays it straight and earnest. I mean, who wouldn’t like Bernie as portrayed as Jack Black? It seems the little town couldn’t do without him, and was loathe, even after a confession, to believe ill of him, even to this day. The charming thing about the movie is that it’s narrated by interviews with townspeople. Most of them are irascible and funny in their own right. Some of the real residents of Carthage provided their own commentary on the events. Shirley MacLaine – well, she’s a legend. Just look at that face, and you’ll see more emotions than Theda Bara could express. She has very little dialogue, but you know exactly what she’s feeling in each scene. Amazing. I found the story rather tedious but still I was curious to see what was going to happen. I think the latter is due to fine acting rather than a scintillating screenplay. This is a small film: the budget was only $6 million. If you “know” anything at all about small towns and find that kind of humor funny, it’s almost a laugh-a-minute. For the rest of us, it’s repetitious and slow in parts. Still, I would have to give it a thumb’s up, just because it’s such a different little film.


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