Bernie is a wonderful movie. It's beautifully directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, The School of Rock) and includes terrific performances by Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey and an Oscar-worthy performance by Jack Black. Yes, the film is based on a true story, and it's actually the story itself, well-executed by Richard Linklater, that will consistently keep you fascinated. Linklater crafts a nicely paced and directed character study that, in a way, acts as a documentary.
The script, while not being bad, has its flaws, but these characters are great. Jack Black's character is exceptionally developed with heart. He's just a great character: funny, caring, and good-hearted. You just can't possibly dislike the guy. Black's performance is magnificent, and what he brings to the character Bernie is why the character is so engaging. You really grow to care about him, and once he is accused of murdering Mrs. Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) you truly feel sorry for him. Shirley MacLaine's character, on the other hand, is one selfish piece of s***. That's all I'm saying. That and she's expertly portrayed by MacLaine. I refuse to spoil a single detail about the character. If you want to know more, see the film.
Bernie falls a bit short of being truly great, but it's still an effective, fascinating, and constantly entertaining motion picture. The story itself and the performances are the two highest points of the film. It's done very well by Richard Linklater, directed with intense precision and characterization. My mind will be blown to dust if Jack Black isn't nominated for an Oscar. He really deserves it. Just do yourself a favor and go see Bernie. Like, now. It's one of the year's best films.
3.5/4 (See It)