Movie Review: Bernie

Three movie reviews in one week? What is the world coming to? Well, I’ve been out and about for so much of it (off to Bangor today for a library cataloging meeting), that I haven’t had much time for thinking up other good blog posts.

No complaining!

Up today is another new movie: Jack Black stars as a mortician in Bernie. He’s a really nice, congenial fellow. Church goer. Cares for the elderly. All around great guy. He becomes friends with an old lady no one else likes.

And then he kills her.

This is not a spoiler–or at least, not a spoiler as far as the movie makers are concerned. The movie is part dramatized history, part flat out documentary, and it doesn’t get its drive from plot. It gets its drive from characters. In other words, you don’t watch it to find out what happens next. You watch it to get to know these characters more.

I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. Jack Black isn’t always my favorite actor, and this is more of an art house movie, and I wasn’t sure he’d be able to pull it off. Thankfully, he could. Shirley MacLaine plays the old lady, and she also does a great job.

What stands apart, though, are the real people they interviewed. Interspersed throughout the dramatizations are these interviews with people who actually knew Bernie. (Yes, this is based on a true story.) They’re just so . . . perfect. So authentic. I had a hard time believing they weren’t actors reading from a script. But they weren’t.

If you’re looking for a solid dark, quirky movie sprinkled liberally with strange humor, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a comedy, but it’s not a laugh a minute comedy. Much more subtle. I’ll give it three stars, though it might get an extra half star if I watch it again. It seems like That Sort of Movie.

Anyone else out there seen it? Thoughts?

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