Bernie isn’t just a vehicle for Jack Black to show off in Serious Actor Mode – it’s a window into the charmingly strange township of Carthage (that’s East Texas) and the people who make it strange. Director Richard Linklater creates something close to a docu-dramedy by mixing interviews – a few of which apparently include people who really did know Bernie – with scripted action. The result should be choppy and jarring, but in the end it actually helps cover all the shades of grey in Bernie’s story.
Proving he can do drama as well as he can Kung Fu Panda, Jack Black sinks deep into the role of the overly nice, God-fearing Bernie, with a perfectly hateful Shirley MacLaine as his rich, senior friend. And of course, because we’re so close to the South, Matthew McConaughey shows up chewing on a toothpick (don’t worry, he keeps his shirt on at all times). But better than all three are the Carthage locals, who’ll teach you a thing or two about those hippies over in Austin, why no one remembers the panhandle, and what it means when your donkey’s in a ditch.
BERNIE is currently in limited release across AUSTRALIA through MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT