Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2011. Mandalay Vision, Wind Dancer Productions, Detour Filmproduction, Castle Rock Entertainment, Collins House Productions, Horsethief Pictures. Screenplay by Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth, based on the article in Texas Monthly by Skip Hollandsworth. Cinematography by Dick Pope. Produced by Liz Glotzer, Richard Linklater, David McFadzean, Dete Meserve, Judd Payne, Celine Rattray, Martin Shafer, Ginger Sledge, Matt Williams. Music by Graham Reynolds. Production Design by Bruce Curtis. Costume Design by Kari Perkins. Film Editing by Sandra Adair. Golden Globe Awards 2012. Gotham Awards 2012. Independent Spirit Awards 2012. National Board of Review Awards 2012. New York Film Critics Awards 2012.
A stranger-than-fiction case of murder and greed in Carthage, Texas, with Jack Black 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 also 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.