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Rated NR · 87 minutes · 2012
Actor Jack Black redeems himself and filmmaker Richard Linklater hits a home run with this comic character study, a hilarious shot of East Texas flavor in a true-crime wrapper. Everyone in the little town of Carthage is gossiping about how their beloved funeral director, sweet and fussy bachelor Bernie Tiede (Black), has become the best friend and confidant of the meanest old rich lady in town, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). And the tongues really start wagging when Marjorie mysteriously disappears. Black, MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey (as the gung-ho local DA) all revel in their parts, and the crowning touch is Linklater’s decision to let the townsfolk (played by a mixture of actors and amateurs) play themselves as a Greek chorus of snoops. Director Linklater (The School of Rock, Before Sunrise, Me and Orson Welles) and co-writer Skip Hollandsworth just wind ‘em up and let ‘em gab, and they’re wonderful. The comparison with Fargo is apt, except that Houston native Linklater has delved deeply into his home state before, with Slacker and Dazed and Confused. Stick around for the end credits to see James Baker sing his song, “Bernie, What Have You Done?” A winner. (104 min.)

See our full review: Bernie


Texas pity twister. »



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