Monday, January 7, 2013


I knew nothing about the true story, but found the documentary style film from Richard Linklater telling the story of Bernie Tiede to be interesting as a dark comedy even when it was difficult to become emotionally connected with any of those involved in Carthage, Texas.  The story is told through a series of interviews with the townspeople along with flashbacks. 

Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is a funeral director and mortician, who takes pride in his work by being involved with every aspect of the funeral from selling the casket to singing during the ceremony and following up with the widows unnecessarily.  Bernie strikes up a relationship with the rich Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) who is hated within the community ever since her husband passed away.  They become companions in both daily routines and expensive vacations.  However, Bernie gets pushed too far by the controlling and emotionally abusive Marjorie and shoots her in the back four times with a rifle in a fit of rage after being named the sole beneficiary in her will.  Bernie then started giving gifts to several friends in Carthage using Nugent's money. 

Among those interviewed, only her stockbroker (Richard Robichaux) and Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey), the local district attorney, are unsympathetic toward the sunny, sometimes saccharine Bernie.  The performance from Matthew McConaughey quickly reminds me of "Lincoln Lawyer", but not in a good way.  He is comfortable in the legal environment but the rest of the performance is uninspired. 

Without knowing what happens to Bernie it was weird hearing all of the interviews refer to him and Marjorie in the past tense.  While the performance from Jack Black is very unique the film as a whole is just lacking an element that wants you to care for him and the outcome of the legal proceedings.  Ultimately, the exaggerated performance overshadows the rest of the film and I only can give the film 3 Quacks.

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