¨A story so unbelievable it must be true.¨
Bernie is among the top 5 films I`ve seen this year, and as the tagline suggests this is one of those few movies that you feel assured is actually true because it`s just too unbelievable to be made up. We all know that most films based on true stories are almost completely fictional except for a few details, but here we have a really interesting story that even used some of the real people involved in an interview format that gave the movie a documentary like feeling. I really loved this film directed by the great Richard Linklater (Slackers, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset) who made independent movies popular in the early 90`s. Once more the story takes place in his beloved Texas, with people who he`s very familiar with, and so the film turns out to be a great character study while at the same time combining dark comedy, drama, and suspense. All these elements mixed together combined with a great performance from Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Shirley MacLaine make for a near perfect movie. Bernie really took me by surprise, just like Jack Black did with what I think is his best performance ever; I had a great time watching this. The small rural town of Carthage in Texas is also a main character in this film as we meet its people who all seem to adore Bernie as much as I did this movie.
The film is narrated in a semi documentary style as we have the story taking place and it being interrupted by several interviews of the Carthage townspeople who share their opinion about Bernie (Jack Black). The interview serves to continue the flow of the movie as at first they explain how Bernie arrived at their small town. Bernie, an expert mortician, is hired by a funeral director to assist him and from the very beginning he has everyone`s admiration for being such a hardworking loveable and caring guy. He makes friends easily and very soon has the admiration of the entire town. He not only assists the funeral director, but is always willing to go the extra mile offering special funeral services like singing for them or offering special words. He also helps out in several theater plays in the community and serves as the music minister for the local church. Everyone in Carthage likes him and has only but good things to say about him. After Marjorie Nugent`s (Shirley MacLaine) husband passes away, the wealthy widow befriends Bernie. Everyone in town hates Marjorie because she is really mean spirited, even her family has stopped communicating with her for years and even has filed lawsuits against her, but somehow Bernie found a way to get to her. The unlikely duo turn into good friends and travel the world together, but after some time Marjorie turns completely dependent on Bernie and he begins to feel like he`s in a prison with her. This leads Bernie to do something he will regret for the rest of his life.
Bernie is a film based on character study, and a very good one at that because you have a very interesting lead character. He is a very friendly, caring, and giving man that everyone likes. At the same time he seems to be concerned about what others think of him and is always looking for their approval and acceptance. He isn’t concerned about the money as he is with receiving acceptance and that is why he is always giving things to others and helping them. For this reason he can´t find a way to leave Marjorie because he knows he will break her heart and he doesn’t want anyone not to like him. This is not only Jack Black`s best performance to date, but in my opinion it is the best male lead performance of the year and he should receive recognition for his portrayal of Bernie. He is excellent in this film and Jack Black fans should see this movie. This is the second time he has teamed up with director Richard Linklater after School of Rock, but this is a much mature performance and greater movie. Shirley MacLaine is also great in her role as the mean and demanding Marjorie, but we`ve all seen her deliver these performances in the past. Matthew McConaughey also gives a great performance as the town`s District Attorney and he does a good job without going over the top with his character. Bernie really caught me by surprise and I really enjoyed the movie.