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Archive for the ‘Bernie’ Category

Bernie

Jack Black plays a an eccentric mortician in Richard Linklater’s new film Bernie, based on the true story of millionaire Marjorie Nugent, and her close companion Bernie. It’s been three years since Linklater’s last film Me and Orson Welles was released.  I don’t think he gets the credit he truly deserves as one of the finer filmmakers over the past 20 years, and Bernie proves to be one of his strongest efforts to date.

Bernie is presented like an Errol Morris documentary as we learn about his life from the people that knew him the best, his co-workers and those who he helped in the funeral business, along with local radio station hosts, and just about everybody else in town.  Everyone loves Bernie.

Bernie lives in Carthage, Texas, which we learn is quite a unique place from the rest of Texas. It’s a sleepy town with quiet, friendly people, and it seems Bernie fits right in.  He is a rockstar in the funeral business.  A pure and true professional.  He knows how to make everyone feel comfortable, as well as be able to increase profits for the funeral home.  We realize that Bernie is also a master salesman as well as a loving and caring mortician.  He is a master of the up-sell, which includes getting a tall man to buy a nicer casket so he doesn’t have to make a “leg adjustment” when he passes away.

Bernie has some interesting supporting characters surrounding him as well, which include Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine) a rich elderly woman, and Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) a hard nosed local attorney who thinks he knows the real story about Bernie and his interesting relationship with Marjorie.

Bernie takes care of Marjorie after the death of her mother.  Extra special care, as he jetsets around the world with her, keeping her company and helping her deal with her loss.  They become the best of friends, and soon are spending every waking minute together.  But what is Bernie really want with an elderly lonely woman, and what does she want with him? They form a strange bond together and it’s that relationship that makes the film move along in a very interesting direction.

The film is just as much a portrait of a strange man as it is of small town living and the people that make up those small towns.  It’s a very unique dark comedy that takes a lot of twists and turns.  It’s probably Jack Black’s best film in years, as well as being yet another fantastic notch on the belt for director Richard Linklater.  Black is able to be humorous without being annoying, and he plays the part of Bernie with a lot of patience and subtlety.   Bernie plays like some messed up version of Driving Miss Daisy, constantly keeps you guessing as to the motivations of all the characters involved and it’s one of the years best so far.

Grade: A-