A friend suggested I watch the latest Richard Linklater film “Bernie” from 2011 starring Jack Black. Somehow, this film had stayed completely off of my radar all this time. I have been a Linklater fan all the way back to what I consider his real chef d’oeuvres: Slackers, A Waking Life, and A Scanner Darkly and was curious to see what would happen when he teamed up again with Jack Black as he had done some years back on School of Rock which I found OK but not amazing. As for Jack Black, I think he has had occasionally decent performances, but I preferred him as a hilarious musician in Tenacious D rather than as an actor. Well, Bernie scores on all cylinders for me: not only is it a great docu-drama based on a true story that is shot with both actors and folks from the real community where the drama occured, but Jack Black is incredible here both as a singer and an actor. He plays Bernie Tiede who really did murder his benefactor Marjorie Nugent (played amazingly by Shirley MacLaine) and is incredibly convincing. The opening sequence where he instructs on proper care of the dead to a group of future morticians is classic and reminded me on the pleasure of watching Six Feet Under (perhaps a favorite of Linklater as well?). Bernie becomes the saint of Carthage, TX where his effeminate ways are overlooked because of all the good he did to the community. When he starts a relationship with Marjorie (a very wealthy woman that everyone including her kids hates), we aren’t really sure if it was purely out of financial opportunism or because he saw something in her that no one else did. In any case, she re-becomes her overbearing bitchy self and pushes Bernie to killing her and trying to hid the murder for as long as possible. Jack Black is an amazing singer here in choir and musicals throughout the film and his acting is spot on the entire time. The same friend told me that the whole film was shot on a shoestring budget (for Hollywood anyway) of only $5M and yet the film does not look cheap in any regard. I can whole-heartedly recommend this film to folks regardless of whether they are fans of Jack Black or Richard Linklater or not. In fact, I know quite a few friends that have aversions to Jack Black that would probably be pleasantly surprised by the raw talent he displays here.
- Bernie (mhmoviereviews.com)
- ‘Bernie’ Star Jack Black on Meeting His Real Life, Murderous Counterpart – EXCLUSIVE VIDEO (hollywood.com)
- Bernie (2012) (dtmmr.com)
- Bernie – Review (comedicallywitty.com)