Today, let’s delve into Jack Black’s unexpected, critically acclaimed role in the dark comedy “Bernie.”
The Richard Linklater-directed film brilliantly places Black in the role of real-life personality Bernie Tiede, who once upon a time was the mild-mannered, much-loved assistant funeral director in the small town of Carthage, Texas. Bernie was so giving and considerate that barely a soul could believe it when he was arrested for the murder of his benefactress and close friend, Marge Nugent, the richest and most hated widow in Carthage.
There are two things that make “Bernie” a gem of a comedy. First, I have never seen Black work this hard. He’s acting his pants off, and the results are marvelous to watch. He’s a dynamo and 100 percent committed to the part.
Secondly, the format of the film is such that, as the plot unfolds, it is interrupted by first-person interviews from townsfolk sharing their impressions of the goings-on. In a way, it’s like watching a documentary of the real-life scandal. I found these to be hilarious. And guess what — they’re real people! They aren’t actors; they actually knew Bernie and Marge!
Shirley MacLaine plays Marge, and I can’t picture anyone else doing it. I can still see her chewing every bite of food like a woman possessed. She probably could drive anyone to madness.
Critics seemed to like Matthew McConaughey as Danny Buck, the town’s district attorney, but he was the only thing about the film that I didn’t like. I found his casting distracting and cartoonish, especially when paralleled to Black’s brilliance.
But … I’m a fan!