The old adage that "truth is stranger than fiction" is all too accurate in this Richard Linklater film. The director of films like the "Before" trilogy, "Dazed and Confused" and "Boyhood" took to an actual story for this dark comedy about a Texan mortician who kills the elderly widow he befriended. The film follows the investigation into uncovering the motive and drama surrounding the case. Linklater actually takes to using actual residents to outline the backstory in addition to his actors who play the main roles. Jack Black, a normally comedic star, takes on the titular role of Bernie Tiede, the killer in question. Black brings his usual likability to the role and is not a man you would think to be capable of violence. However in the hands of director Linklater and Black, Bernie is depicted as a figure who transitions from a mild mannered every-man who finally snapped when push came to shove and coldly (and many would argue rightly) took the life of a defenseless elderly woman. The lengths to which Bernie goes fit well into Jack Black's ability to juggle a mix of fear of discovery with intelligence that is touched upon, but amateurish. The actor did actually met with the real Bernie Tiede to prepare for the film which is shown at the end credits. In the role of the victim is Oscar nominee Shirley MacLaine who is at her detached best. The actress has to rely on her skill set to portray a woman who was known to be unlikable and possessively cruel which MacLaine taps into without becoming a caricature. She is silent most of the time, using body language to exude a cold, callous demeanor but when MacLaine does speak she uses her razor sharp tongue to spew short words of demeaning or just uncaring emotion. We are never forced to hate her, but are encouraged to sympathize with Bernie's situation with Marjorie as the relationship grows strained until Bernie finally shoots her to death. Rounding out the cast is the almost undeniable ideal casting of a slick Matthew McConaughey as District Attorney Danny Davidson (nicknamed Buck). Given the Texan native has been numerous lawyers in works like "A Time to Kill", "Amistad" and "The Lincoln Lawyer", it's only fitting that the actor now plays a prosecuting attorney and an actual figure at that. Never becoming smarmy or overly self-righteous, McConaughey does bring an air of cockiness to Danny which was well documented by the actual residents in the film and in the investigation of the Tiede case. As one interviewee states, 'the best thing Danny "Buck" Davidson is good at is getting himself elected.' That sentence just about sums up the man himself, but there is no denying that he is/was a good lawyer given that Davidson won the guilty verdict from the jury in the case of Bernie Tiede; a verdict which is still debated about. The film sticks quite closely to the actual facts of the case without embellishing too much fluff into the narrative. Some moments come off as a bit mismatched with the film's tone, the docudrama style of shooting is actually a unique perspective as the story comes from actual men and women while of course sprinkling in the acting performances to move the story along. The true crime flick is a good departure for director Richard Linklater as it mixes dark comedy into a genre of film he hasn't really tackled before or since.
Biography / Comedy / Crime / Drama
Biography / Comedy / Crime / Drama
In small-town Texas, an affable mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when she starts to become controlling, he goes to great lengths to separate himself from her grasp.
Downloaded 29,356 times
April 16, 2019