Directed by Richard Linklater and set in the small town of Carthage, Texas, Bernie tells the true story of a local mortician (Jack Black) who strikes up a friendship with Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine), a wealthy widow who was as well-known for her sour attitude as well as her fortune. When Marjorie becomes dependent on Bernie, however, he reacts in a way that he, nor the people of Carthage, knew he could. When it is reported that Marjorie has been dead for some time, the last thing the neighbourhood expected next was for Bernie to be charged with the murder, as it is revealed that he has gone to great lengths to create the illusion that she has been alive for some time.
Filmed in a documentary style, it’s rare that a murder story can be dealt with in such a light-hearted, comical way, but once you know the story you can see how it works so well. It really is fascinating. At first I was a little cynical about being urged to like Bernie’s character but, in the end, it’s hard not to; I guess that’s how it happened in real life, as well, though.
Jack Black is an actor I find hard to enjoy. Whilst he didn’t particularly impress me here, I also felt that he suited the role of Bernie well and that he helped to make the film a successful dark comedy. It’s certainly his best performance yet anyway, and I doubt we’ll see anything better from him. Matthew McConaughey has an enjoyable supporting role, too.
Bernie is set to be released on DVD on 19th August.