In Movies on January 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm

“Bernie” was suggested to me by none other than the interwebs. It seemed that every blog I gazed upon, people commented on this film stating that it was an underrated hit. Reading this, and then seeing that it was on Netflix, I decided to watch Bernie and I wouldn’t say it was completely underrated.

“Bernie”, directed by Richard Linklater, stars Jack Black, as Bernie Tiede a mild-mannered, funeral director who enjoys doing more for others then himself. Taking place in Carthage Texas, Bernie arrives and quickly becomes one of the townspeople, putting on plays and befriending the older ladies who may just be lucky enough to have him direct their funeral. All the townspeople, many were actually interviewed for this movie and those interviews were dispersed throughout, felt that Bernie was a great addition to the town. One individual by the name of Danny Buck, assistant district attorney for the county played by Matthew McConaughey, felt that there was more to Bernie than meets the eye. While befriending the townsfolk, most notably the older female generation, Bernie encounters a particularly difficult nut to crack, Majorie Nugent, played by Shirley Maclaine, who can be described as difficult, although this word doesn’t nearly cover it. After befriending her, then working for her, then eventually living with her, Bernie finally has enough.  And that folks is where I will end my synopsis.

As I stated before, this movie was good but it wasn’t great. I believe that it is due some recognition  specifically Jack Black’s performance within the film, but other than that I would have to say that I didn’t find it particularly and I felt that this was due to the format it was filmed in, it appeared to be a documentary/film which didn’t really work for this story. But I will discuss that in more detail later on.

Jack Black performed wonderfully in this film, acting within that grey area between homosexuality and heterosexuality, which was something that many people said was a characteristic of Bernie’s. He portrayed the do-gooder exceptionally well and when he encountered a particularly dark moment, he appeared to act realistically. This was also a character I have never seen Jack Black play before, which demonstrated his ability to flex his thespian muscle. I hope that, as a result of this film, Jack Black gets offered more serious roles because I think, when given the right character, he can act dramatically.

Shirley MacClaine also was quite powerful in this film without having many lines and a ton of screen time. It appeared all she needed to do was scowl and immediately the audience could feel her wrath permeate the screen. So much in fact then the audience feels for Bernie and all of the responsibility that he has taken on and what occurs as a result.

The story was also a very interesting part of this film because, not only was it true, but it was original. It was told very powerfully, depicting the examples that the towns folk discussed while being interviewed. Despite this character being real, it made him even more so real because the people who actually encountered him on the day-to-day gave their Bernie Tiede anecdotes. However,  I believed that this movie suffered from all the back and forth between the film and the interviews. While they were informative and interesting, they were an aspect of this film that should have been concentrated either in the beginning of the film or at the end of the film.

So, if you want to see Jack Black act in a serious dramatic movie and not just be used for comic relief then watch this movie because it is on Netflix, so you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Now onto the spoilers nitty-gritty part!

So I have to say, from my own educational background, that this movie portrayed  Bernie’s actions quite realistically. Now I understand that the actual Bernie was interviewed for this movie, but still a murder of this kind is unique and should be portrayed as such. Bernie did not plan this murder out previously, rather he was backed into a corner, a very stressful corner, and took what he thought was the only way out. When he was confronted, he confessed to his crime because he knew he did it and most likely wanted to get caught, given where he hid the body. A crime like this occurs quite frequently and has been labeled as cathartic in nature, and when the individual is committing the murder they describe the experience as almost dream-like. This was the case for Bernie and I congratulate Linklater for depicting it so well.


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