In a small town in Texas lives Bernie (Jack Black), a popular mortician who befriends the lonely, rich Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). The pair do everything together, however Marjorie eventually becomes abusive, and after one demand too many Bernie makes a fatal decision. The film is presented in a documentary style, with the story told by residents of the town in interviews which flash back to the events, some of whom are in fact real-life Texan’s who took part in the real case.
Richard Linklater has assembled a great cast for his latest offering. Matthew McConaughey stands out as the district attorney, while this is Jack Black’s best role for a long time, and shows he has a wider range of ability than his usual performances would have you believe. The problem however lies in the narrative: it is just not engaging enough to care about the characters. There is no build-up of events, just a meandering plod from start to finish. While displaying moments of quirkiness and charm, the script does not contain enough humour for it to deliver as a comedy. It is difficult to guess what Linklater’s intentions were, as the light-hearted tone of the film persists from start to finish, despite the turn of events. Bernie is an enjoyable watch, just not satisfactory, and may leave you wondering: what was the point?