Starring: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey

Director: Richard Linklater

Rating:  4/5

It has been a while since we have seen Jack Black on the big screen but this week he is back with his new movie Bernie.

The film is based on a true story and sees the actor team up with director Richard Linklater, who is making his first movie since Me And Orson Welles.

In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand.

Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow who was as well known for her sour attitude as her fortune.

Bernie frequently travelled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependent on Bernie and his generosity and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie.

The people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that Marjorie Nugent had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder.

Bernie is an intriguing movie from start to finish as Linklater balances comedy with a real darkness and yet the eccentricities of all of the characters involved really do shine through and give the film it’s heart.

Linklater has blended two distinct filming styles as he moves from run of the dramatic storytelling to almost a documentary style as the people of Carthage reminisce about Bernie and what he did for the town.

It is a slightly bizarre way to tell this murderous story and yet it works really well and sits well with the quirkiness of the characters and the story.

Black is simply terrific in the title role of Bernie, a man who is driven to kill in a moment of madness, as he gives one of the performances of his career.

Black has already picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his performance and it really is well deserved as he gives this character a real charm.

He may be a killer but Bernie is a man who cannot be hated by the audience as he does give a funny, heartfelt and rather endearing performance.

Shirley MacLaine is also great as the rather nasty Mrs Nugent while Matthew McConaughey gives another fine performance as Danny Buck, who is determined to bring Bernie to justice.

I will happily admit that I am not a Jack Black fan and I find most of the performances that he gives and the movies he stars in as a little irritating by Bernie is a movie that shows a very different side to the actor.

This is a peculiar story, hard to believe that it is true, but it is told in a way that is both dark and funny with some great performances at it’s core.

Bernie is out now

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