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Bernie (2012)

April. 27,2012
| Drama Comedy Crime

In small-town Texas, affable and popular mortician Bernie Tiede strikes up a friendship with Marjorie Nugent, a wealthy widow well known for her sour attitude. When she becomes controlling and abusive, Bernie goes to great lengths to remove himself from her grasp.


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Bernie is one of my favorite movies, and the best advice I can give is this: Don't watch the preview. The preview gives away the entire story—major spoilers! All you need to know is it's about a very charismatic mortician who moves to a small Texas town and bonds with a widow after conducting her husband's funeral. If you start to read anything more about the plot, stop reading! The movie is so fantastic, but you can only see it for the first time once. Don't spoil it.The acting in Bernie is incredible. I don't know what kind of anti-aging pill Shirley MacLaine is taking, but I want it! She looks fantastic, and her energy level is just as high as it was in her twenties. Matthew McConaughey gives a hilarious performance, and even people who normally can't stand him will think he does an excellent job (just ask my mom!). And Jack Black, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his turn in the title role, is phenomenal. The Academy Awards snubbed him, big time. He pours himself into the role, making Bernie human, charming, troubled, sweet, and endearing.Richard Linklater co-wrote and directed the film, and he guides the story with a very gentle hand. The main plot is spliced in with mock interviews, but Linklater doesn't make it feel like a documentary. He balances the very fine line between humor and drama, and unfolds the story to the audience in a truly perfect way.Do me and yourself a favor; buy Bernie. It's a movie you'll want to watch over and over and over.

Jon Simon

This movie tried to portray him as a victim. No matter how "mean" she was, he still had no right to kill her. Bottom line is he is a common murderer.I just read where they did not take into account that he was sexually molested as a child and he wants totally freed.The people of Carthidge only liked this guy because he spread the money around of the dead victim. That shows their true colors and Godless ways. To support a murderer because "she was mean and deserved it" really sets the tone of that town How sad. Mass pity for a murderer. What if he had killed a child? He would be burned at the stake. But because it was a woman who the city did not like sort of justifies it? Insanity. IF he was abused as a kid, so what? He clearly went to schooling to become an assistant mortician. He clearly moved on with his life. He traveled the world. He did not hole up because of years of abuse and stay in that world. He knew exactly what he was doing. First class all the way. Giving away her money. Ingratiating himself for attention. He was closeted gay and didn't want to come out. It shows he still made adult decisions, especially when it came to her finances. I credit the stock broker for him even being discovered.I don't like the way the movie portrayed the victim at all. As people grow older they get lonely. Relatives sued her for money and lost. The get old, lonely and Bernie saw an opportunity. He wanted to live a nice lifestyle. Elderly people are often victims of abuse and scams. This movie should have portrayed him as exactly that.The movie had very good acting. The interviews with the towns people made it seem more real. Like everyone wants to see the true behind the scenes dirt on the mean old lady. They are lucky it wasn't them. Remind me never to move or visit that backwoods redneck town. I might get killed and they'd picket to have the murderer released.


Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is an effeminate beloved skilled mortician who loves to sing. He arrives in the small town of Carthage in east Texas and befriends wealthy, hated widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). They become inseparable. However after a couple of years, their relationship starts to fray. Marjorie's bitterness pushes Bernie over the edge and he shoots her in the back. For months after, Bernie is able to keep Marjorie's death a secret while using her wealth. Eventually her body is found in her freezer and D.A. Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) charges Bernie for murder. Despite his confession, many in Carthage continue to support Bernie in the murder of the hated Marjorie.The talking heads really get tiresome after awhile. It's an interesting film technique to introduce the story. However I need more time with just Bernie and Marjorie together. It's too bad because Jack Black is so invested in the role. It could have been an Oscar winning performance for him if the movie concentrated on him and Shirley MacLaine. It could have been Foxcatcher but the talking heads keep Bernie at a distance. Instead of diving in, the audience is forced back. The limited section in the middle of watching the two act is awesome. That's the heart of the movie.


Director Richard Linklater is known for his small movies and the quirky characters within them, as well as the realistic portraits he captures. In Bernie, Mr. Linklater captures the essence of a small Texas town and the true crime story of the bigger-than-life character loved by all.Mr. Linklater perfectly casts Jack Black (with whom he had done School of Rock) as the community's favorite citizen Bernie, Shirley MacLaine as the rich, bitter widow with whom Bernie becomes entwined, and Michael McConaughy (another Linklater alum, on the cusp of his career makeover) as the district attorney who must prosecute Bernie despite public opinion that Bernie should go free. All three stars give wonderful performances – most of all Mr. Black who restrains himself from his usual attention-grabbing antics and gives a well-controlled performance, including several songs that were quite unexpected.This beautiful character study has its moments of comedy, but it is the finely detailed performances that make it something special.