One day, I hope to write a blog post about my all-time favorite directors, the ones who Have Me At Hello to quote Jerry Maguire (its director, Cameron Crowe, is on the list). Richard Linklater is as well. A little-known Richard Linklater gem which was released last year is Bernie.
The movie is a strange hybrid – half documentary, half scripted. A much-beloved effeminate undertaker (Jack Black) befriends a wealthy, nasty, older woman (Shirley MacLaine). The film describes what ensues. The movie cuts between real interviews with various members of the small Texas town who knew Bernie, and scenes with handful of actors. Matthew McConaughey, finally free from Bad Romantic Comedy typecasting, delivers a strong performance. After showing such tremendous promise in Dazed and Confused (again Richard Linklater) it’s great to see him shine.
Like most comics, Jack Black is a significantly underrated actor. He was nominated for a Golden Globe last year for this performance, and deservedly so. He plays against type in this role, in a contained and subtle performance. Maclaine is also fine. And the interviews with the real townspeople interspersed throughout the film are hilarious. If you like dark humor, you will love Bernie. My teen-aged kids watched the entire movie and didn’t budge. Bernie is now available on video. Check it out.
Rating: **** (out of ****)