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Movie Review – “Bernie”

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Not a lot of people can say that they have had a movie filmed in their town, especially a movie about a murderer. Residents of Carthage, Texas were shocked to find out that some big time movie directors were interested in making a film about a murder that happened fifteen years ago in this small, humdrum town. Film director Richard Linklater and writers Linklater and Skip Hollandsworth rekindled this small East Texas town’s story in their 2011 comedy film, “Bernie”. Popular film stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey took on leading roles in the movie.

The movie recaps the 1996 murder of 81-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent in Carthage, Texas by her 39-year-old companion/assistant Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede, who was a highly regarded citizen in Carthage. Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a local mortician, becomes the only friend of the recently widowed Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), who is widely considered a cold hearted and hateful old lady by other town members. Tiede murders Nugent after snapping from the emotional torture she inflicted upon him, and hides her body in her deep freeze for nine months. After the body is discovered by police, Tiede is arrested and is charged with first-degree murder by district attorney, Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey). Tiede is found guilty and gets life in prison.

Turning a movie that sounds like a horror movie into a comedy might be a difficult task for some, but the directors manage to make it look easy. Tiede’s character is portrayed as a fun loving guy that succeeds in making you laugh, until he shoots the old lady at least. There is no feeling of remorse for MacLaine’s callous character after she shows her true characters to the audience. One detail that I particularly like about the film was the real townspeople were included in the movie to give their input between the events of the murder’s timeline. Their East Texas’s accent provides a special touch that really adds to the originality of the production. The film directors stick to the story and portray Bernie as a saint and construct the film in a way that leaves the viewers wondering if maybe he should have received a lesser sentence for the crime he committed.

This film may not be an Emmy winner, but I did enjoy the movie as a whole. I would recommend “Bernie” to people who are interested in comedies and movies based on true stories that will make you laugh at one moment and then frighten you the next.

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Movie Review – “Bernie”