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"Bernie" (95 min.) brings the story of Bernie Tiede (played by Jack Black) as a funeral director (excuse me, "assistant" funeral director) in Carthage, TX. Bernie is the most likeable guy you'll ever meet. He is involved in the community like no-one else before, and the small town just things the world of him. At one of the funerals, Bernie meets widow Marjorie Nugent (played by Shirley McLaine), and they strike a friendship. Marjorie is viewed by everyone as a b*tch, but the two of them get along just great. Things take a turn for the worse as Marjorie becomes more and more possesive of Bernie, and it all builds up to a confrontation between the two, and Bernie shoots her. I won't tell more of the plot, so that you can experience for yourself what happens after that. Several comments: I didn't realize until the credits rolled that (i) this is based on true mid-90s events in Carthage, and (ii) the movie intersects with interviews from people from Carthage, which it turned out are not actors but the actual folks from Chartage who witnessed the whole thing.
I must mention the excellent work from Jack Black as Bernie (has he ever been better than in this movie?), but even more so the eye-popping performance by Shirley McLaine as Marjorie, which really blew me away. Matthew McConaughey certainly deserves an honorable mention in his role as the local District Attorney, MILES away from his usual stuff. In all, I cannot emphasize enough how pleasantly surprised I was by this movie, it just flashed by in no time, and kept my interest throughout. "Bernie" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Really, the most fascinating thing about Bernie is the way the story is told. Rather than give us a linear story, Bernie story is mostly retold by the residents of Carthage, TX who were witnessed to the gruesome events that occurred in this innocent town. This style can backfire gloriously if these characters are too animated, but Linklater strikes the right tone. With a Texan accent and some Southern innocence, these characters all suit the benefits the main story line. He seamlessly alternates between the world of the main characters and residents. This is very competent screenwriting as Linklater only uses his main characters when they are necessary, and allows the residents of Carthage to do the main storytelling. This is a welcome retreat from heavy-set narration of many Hollywood movies, especially some master filmmakers like Woody Allen.
The movie is amazing because it centers on a murder that is hard to condemn like a CSI episode and the intent not dissimilar to Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. What makes the crime difficult to assess is that most of what the audience knows from Bernie is from the residents of Carthage, TX. We do not know Bernie as well as they do, and have to assume that their judgments are sound and not simplistic or based on a façade generated by Bernie himself.Read more ›
If this is the only review of the film you read, then read none others, because you should go in fresh. I will tell you this much: the film is a cross between a mockumentary and an homage to the true tale of a personable mortician/funeral director named Bernie. A Methodist with a tender voice and a precise sort of careful charm, Bernie's affable and off-beat ways woo most of the citizens of the town of Carthage, Texas, including its most notable curmudgeon, an older woman named Marjorie Nugent, known as much for her wealth as for her sweet-as-a-porcupine demeanor. The unlikely friendship that blossoms between those two -- as well as its ultimate dissolution and effect on the town -- provides the heart of this absorbing, beautifully acted crime drama/dark comedy.
The movie's action is interspersed with interviews from citizens of the town, all of whom are so rich in character and colloquialisms that my friends and I could not decide if they were actors or the real deal. It turns out that they are, indeed, real citizens from the town, people who really knew Bernie, and this just adds to the film's sweetly sad charm.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are from Texas you know people like the ones in this movie - or are related to someone like them - or perhaps you ARE someone like them. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by R Weaver
I love this movie. The cast was perfect and the vignettes of Carthage folks were PRICELESS! My enjoyment may be enhanced by the fact that I'm a Texan, so I "know" these... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sandra Conant
Absolutely harilous movie. Real as Carthage, Texas. Jack Buck was the perfect actor for the role.Published 1 month ago by F M Patton
Mortuary, McConaughey, murder...and Jack Black, oh, my! As unlikely as that combination sounds, it's a winning combination and a movie that begs to be watched more than once.Published 1 month ago by Theresa McClellan
A witty, semi-dark movie with a great cast. Jack Black like you've never seen him before! It's filmed in a pseudo-documentary style & the townspeople interviews are some of the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Elanor R. Snyder