Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Shirley MacLaine
Distributed by: Millennium Entertainment
MPAA rating: PG-13
Running Time: 104 minutes
Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars
“Bernie” is directed by Richard Linklater, who is known best for his films “Waking Life” and “Dazed and Confused”. I feel that his work has lost the ‘Linklater charm’ recently especially after his last film “Me and Orson Welles”. The film stars Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine, who both give fantastic performances. The film itself starts off great and plays well between the its narrative and documentary style. Towards the end it seems either rushed or loses focus.
The film follows a small Texas town mortician Bernie Tiede (Black), who befriends a rich widow Marjorie Nugent (MacLaine) after her husband’s death. After becomes her friend and companion, Bernie murders Nugent due to her constant putdowns and tries to get away with it. Since no one is town like her and she has no friends, months go by before anyone really miss her. When local district attorney (McConaughey) begins to investigate, things get complicated for Bernie and the local small town of Carthage.
“Bernie” is based off a true story from a 1998 Texas Monthly magazine article about a 1996 murder of a millionaire by her companion. Like I said, Jack Black gives one of his best performances to date and steals this film. He is funny yet isn’t really try that hard as usual. If you are looking for something different this summer from all the superheros and action films, this could be a good alternative for you.
The Blu-ray presentation is rather sharp for the low-budget film. The 1080p video looks good but not particularly challenged. Same goes for the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which isn’t pushed much but sounds good nonetheless. The special features are a little disappointing for a Richard Linklater film. There is a featurette called “True Story to Film” talks about the film’s adaption of true events. To take advantage of Jack Black’s singing capabilities, there is a special performance of “Amazing Grace”. Lastly, there is featurette called “The Gossips” looking into the real-life townspeople of Carthage, including interviews and their auditions for the film.