Posted on 1/30/13 06:58 PM
One of the very few instances I needed second viewing to determine a final rating. The reason for this being is that it's a better character study than it is a comedy.
Bernie is about the title character who killed a wealthy widow and goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she's alive. The strangest aspect of this film was accepting that it was base on true story. The towns folks weren't outraged about Bernie murder nor wanted him to face any kind of punishment. It's material like this that makes you think. Can I (or anyone) paint the murderer as a victim of a crime in a non-defensive situation? Do we care if justice is serve if no one likes the victim? You'll be surprise at the answers when you view it yourself. As for the comedy aspect it's here, but most of the time it won't garner a laugh. When the humor does work it's nothing hilarious.
As for the way the story told is interesting. We do get fictionalize events, but we also get interviews with the people of Carthage which I saw as a positive and negative. A positive because it provides an insight on the towns people thoughts. These interviews make the community feel like an actual character that pushes the story forward and develops on how we view the series of events. It's astonishing the effects these interviews hold. As for the negative aspect the interview did remind I was watching a movie. At times it did take disrupt the pace of the film and I felt the director couldn't choose to do a documentary or a straightforward drama.
I'll admit that I'm no fan of Jack Black acting, but he just nails his role. He brings to life an actual person that I (probably you too) have never met with such charisma. I found it quite difficult to hate Jack Black even though he murdered a wealthy woman. Despite the fact that he killed a person, Bernie still comes out as one of the nicest person you could ever meet. I also felt Shirley MacLaine was equally as strong. Her portrayal will give some mix feelings. You'll hate her for using a nice guy to do all her work and you sympathize with her for what she lost. Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine are what make this films really work as a character study.
Bernie is better seen as a character study that examines or even make us think about our own moral campus and how we look at individuals. With two great leading actors Bernie is worth checking out for anyone who's curious to take a look.