Bernie (2011)

RICHARD LINKLATER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 2011, , Detour Filmproduction, , , .  Screenplay by Richard Linklater, , based on the article in Texas Monthly by Skip Hollandsworth.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Richard Linklater, , , , , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A stranger-than-fiction case of murder and greed in Carthage, Texas, with  portraying an undertaker whose friendship with an ornery widow (Shirley MacLaine) is a mystery to the townspeople.  MacLaine has never been liked by anybody but seems to have a kinship with Black, whom most of the town assumes is gay, so they are surprised when the two start acting like a couple by going on vacations together, and then mortified when she goes missing for weeks and is eventually found face down in the garage freezer.

Matthew McConaughey appears as the district attorney pulled into the melee that occurs when this case becomes a local curiosity, immune to Bernie’s charms and determined to nab him for the crime.  The film also displays the effect the case had on the citizens of Carthage by including interviews with real locals and participants in the case, a droll move in which the real-life talking heads are sometimes more colourful than the actors.

MacLaine’s acerbic and dark take on her Terms of Endearment character spikes up the fictional stuff, but a weak performance by Black, who has the right motions for the character but can never go deep, is likely why this film is passably fun but not particularly memorable.

Golden Globe Award NominationBest Actor-Musical/Comedy (Jack Black)

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