Writer: Naseem RandhawaWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Midnight In The Garden Of Good & Evil"
This Jack Black film will not see him teaching a bunch of kids the ways of a Rockstar, searching for the pick of destiny, wrestling men in a spandex suit, or running around naked in a jungle high on cocaine. True, "Bernie" may have a slight dark comedy twang; however it is undoubtedly Black's most serious role to date in this bizarre real-life tale of Texas' most beloved murderer.
Based on a factual case that took place in 1996 in the rural southern town of Carthage, Texas, Black plays funeral director Bernie Tiede, who is loved by the whole community for giving superfluous attention to the dead, as well as the living with his devoted and sincere kindness.
When he becomes friends with the recently widowed Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) who lives alone and is generally disliked by the whole town for being mean, Bernie's friendship with her is seen as nothing but the typical compassionate nature synonymous with Bernie, even when he is eventually pushed over his brink of tolerance and accidently murders her.
The completely decent Bernie, from his prim dressing to his manners, to his sense of social betterment, is pleasantly portrayed by Black in a series of 'documented' footage through the perception of the townsfolk who all seem to have a kind regard for Bernie. Through these series of vignettes, we learn more about the town, Bernie's professionalism as a funeral director and as an all-rounded model citizen; singing in choirs and directing stage musicals. Even the nature of his questionable sexuality and his relationship with Marjorie is not left unexplored. Through Black's performance, don't expect him to suddenly break into soaring tenor and be wildly thrashing away on a classic rock n' roll number, instead here as Bernie, Black is modest and serenades mourners with "Amazing Grace" in church the way the real Bernie did.
To please audiences is one thing, but even Black's performance is certified by the real Bernie Tiede, as audiences can see Black visiting the real Bernie who's currently serving his life sentence in prison at the end credits.
Shirley MacLaine who plays the grouchy widow disliked even by her own children, doesn't say much in the film, but when she does, she says it with contempt and arrogance, as one of the townsfolk sums it well, "her nose was so high, she'd drown in a rainstorm".
Matthew McConaughey also has a prominent presence (and he keeps his shirt on this time, hurrah!) as Carthage's cowboy hat wearing defence attorney (having just came off playing another D.A. in "The Lincoln Lawyer") whom always found Bernie suspicious from the start, seeming to be the only flabbergasted one in town who believes that if you committed a crime, then you ought to serve the time, unlike the biased townsfolk who plead a lenient sentence for their dear Bernie.
"Bernie" may not be for everyone, what with its strong Southern accent and Texan cultured flow, but if you're looking for a movie that's based on a real-life murderer that's less gory and more of a morale story, then this is one of the few that sets itself apart with a pleasant vibe through and through.Cinema Online, 02 September 2012