Holy Bernie, Batman! An extremely enjoyable jaunt from start to finish, Bernie may be my favorite film of the year so far next to Project X, The Avengers, Chronicle and Thin Ice. This is a true story told with panache and gentle wit.
Bernie (Jack Black) is the nicest guy, probably in the whole world. He spends all his time catering to other people’s needs. He buys people things and comforts them with eulogies and sings with great joy during church while leading the choir and cheers up the elderly and so on and so forth. He’s flippin great. Sadly, no one is that awesome without some flaw. Bernie’s weakness may be that he is too nice and kind and therefore cannot tell someone that he has been caring for, who happens to be the supreme bitch of hell on earth, to screw off. Thus after years of mental anguish he succumbs to his inner demon and unleashes the beast.
Without giving the whole movie away, after the great deed has been done, the townsfolk, whom by the way, are mostly real people (non-actors) that were apart of the actual story, tend to all be on Bernie’s side and want to redeem him of all wrongdoing. This is a Texas story through and through. Richard Linklater directs this film with a keen veracity and compassion. He grew up in Austin and obtained his first big breaks with Slacker and Dazed and Confused. Linklater, then went on to direct other such masterpieces like Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Waking Life. He shot this film in a unique way with documentary style interviews spliced with shots of well known actors playing out the story. My only hangup would be the casting of McConaughey – he may have not been necessary and takes you out of the illusion a bit. Regardless, it was so well done and balanced. This could easily be Jack Black’s best performance on record and I hope he is recognized for it. It’s a shockingly simple story, very engaging and will make the best of us question what we would do and how we would act in similar situations. I love clever movies like this.
Recommended Viewing: Before Sunrise – Before Sunset – SubUrbia
Robert Ryan Scale: Objective: 8.7 – Subjective: 9.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 85