Movie Review, “Bernie”

Ever heard of it? Probably not.

At least, I didn’t hear of it right away. But I’m glad I saw it.

The dark comedy, based on true events, surrounds the small Texan town of Carthage. Jack Black, who stars as the title character, Bernie Tiede, is an assistant funeral director and beloved by the town – always willing to go that extra step and one of the friendliest guys you meet. Until he befriends widower Marjorie Nugent (Shirley Maclaine), who is known for her grumpy attitude. The townsfolk aren’t shocked by this, since Tiede is that friendly.

It looks as though Tiede is changing Marjorie. A smile starts to replace her normal frown. She seems more active and willing to travel. Until that one day where she stops. She starts treating Tiede poorly. Demanding him to do certain activities or preventing him from attending a play practice, where he serves as actor and director.

One day, while heading to lunch, Tiede snaps. He shoots and kills Marjorie.

Though not in the traditional film setting – it’s mostly told in a pseudo-documentary setting – it is a wonderful film. Black brings his “A” game as Tiede, though the character seems much like a “Black”ian-type character already.

The story keeps you going – from Tiede’s and Nugent’s introduction, the extent of their relationship and the aftermath of her death. You see how a town rallies around Tiede, even when lead district attorney Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) believes Tiede should fess up and suffer the ultimate consequences for his crime.

It probably won’t receive many nominations come award season, but this is the type of film that you’re just glad you were able to see. It’s not a “forget-me-now” kind of film, nor is it a blockbuster. It meets in the middle. After all, if you use Rotton Tomatoes as a tool, it’s received a 90% so far.

This is definitely a movie I would recommend.

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