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June 9, 2012 | 9:51 a.m. CST
Small town charm might sound cliché, but the people of Carthage, Texas cast a spell on the audience in the film Bernie, a comedic dramatization of true events directed by Richard Linklater (Bad News Bears). And the most popular man in town, Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), is no exception. Bernie works as an assistant funeral director, consoling those who have lost a loved one and blessing the town with his songbird voice. Carthage loves him, and he loves Jesus.
Bernie befriends Carthage foe Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) after her husband’s death. They grow close quickly, and her possessive and grouchy nature begins to take over Bernie’s life. Once the townspeople discover Marjorie has actually been dead for some time, District Attorney Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) charges Bernie with first-degree murder. Even after he confesses to the crime, the town just won’t believe it.Related Movie
The plot is driven by interviews and testimonies, giving the audience an intimate view of the honky-tonk town. Viewers, especially those who understand the gossip circle of a small town, will truly connect with these characters, many of which provide comical one-liners.
With probably one too many song numbers from Black, the story moves slowly. Marjorie’s character is a little underdeveloped, but Bernie steals the show, as the title suggests. As Bernie captures the hearts of the townspeople, Black captures the lovable spirit of the role with ease. His performance shows Bernie’s effortless kindness but remained mysterious to continuously captivate the audience.
People can’t help but love him, from the first scene to the last.