Bernie (2011)


This hybrid film being half documentary and half dark comedy; brings forth a most unusual story, about a severely strange relationship between two people who found themselves connected in a small Texas town.

The story centers around a widow named Marjorie Nugent played by the ever talented Shirley MacLaine. She is spiteful and mean to most anyone who comes her way, except a rather unique man named Bernie Tiede played by actor/musician Jack Black. This film is based upon real life events which occurred in Carthage, Texas (pop. 6,851) located near the Louisiana state line.

Jack Black was masterful playing this rather obscure character. As a funeral director in the mid 1990’s he basically charmed the entire Texan town of Carthage with his generosity and kindness towards them. This really gives you a better understanding about this man and his motives in life.

Stick around until the credit run where you will see the real Bernie Tiede with Jack Black sitting across from him. I believe this is one of Jack Black’s finest performances, showcasing his vocals and acting chops.

What was interesting is the way this film presents itself, with a myriad of different interviews using local townspeople mixing it up with flashback sequences played out by the cast. The film was directed by Texas native Richard Linklater. He has previously brought forth several great films including the cult classic Dazed and Confused (1993) and Before Sunrise (1995) both were entertaining as well.

Matthew McConaughey is also in this film portraying lawyer Danny Buck who worked with Richard Linklater in Dazed and Confused (1993) earlier in his career. Brady Coleman appears in Bernie (2011) playing Scrappy Holmes, Richard Robichaux plays accountant Lloyd Hornbuckle, the late Rick Dial leaving behind 14 acting roles plays Don Leggett, Larry Jack Dotson plays Rev. Woodard, and Brandon Smith from films like Powder (1995) plays Sheriff Huckabee in this film.

From what I understand, writer Skip Hollandsworth based this screenplay on a article titled: “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas” in the Texas Monthly which he had written. Director Richard Linklater also collaborated on the screenplay with him for this film.

This film paints a picture about Bernie Tiede trying to explain the way he turned out to be and the reasons which lead up to the murder of Marjorie Nugent. This true-crime comedy really delivers well and I think most people will find it to be rather entertaining to watch.