Linklater does a lot of hilarious, interesting things with Bernie, a deceptively dark comedy that honors the flash-fried wit of the south, while asking a pretty damn compelling question… Is it possible to be an entirely sympathetic and forgivable murderer? I still don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that Linklater and Jack Black have presented a character that damn near convinces you. A story about an infinitely sweet man without a bone of malice in his heart, things change when he is oppressed by a rather wicked old woman to the point where he snaps and kills her. Matthew McConaughey plays the attention-seeking DA who is battling a town of people willing to look the other way, and as good as he and Black are (and they are truly great) it’s the citizens of Carthage, TX that steal the show. The film is loosely structured as an after-the-fact recounting of the story, with hilarious local-flavor interviews filling out the story. You’re likely to tear yourself a new three-bedroom, two-bath, double-wide asshole from laughing, all before leaving the film with a real doozy of a moral dilemma.
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenwriter: Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth
Principal Cast: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Brady Coleman, Richard Robichaux, Rick Dial, Brandon Smith, Larry Jack Dotson, Merrilee McCommas, Matthew Greer
In the small town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the most beloved and appreciated residents, so it came as no surprise when he befriended the town’s richest and meanest widow, Marjorie Nugent. Soon, Marjorie became fully dependent on Bernie and his generosity as he struggled to meet her increasing demands. When the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie, the people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that she had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder.