by Tony Medley
OK for children.
This is based on
a true story inspired by an article in Texas monthly about the town of
Carthage, Texas, generally, and two of his residents, Marjorie Nugent
and Bernie Tiede. Director Richard Linklater, whose last film Me and
Orson Welles (2009) was one of the three best films I saw that year,
has once again hit a home run.
Black) is an assistant funeral director who was so nice he became one of
Carthage is most beloved residents, teaching Sunday school, singing in
the church choir, and always being there when ever anyone needed help.
(Shirley Maclaine), on the other hand, was Carthage is most hated
resident. She had a malign, cruel personality. Despite this, Bernie
next is told by the actual residents of Carthage in documentary style,
cutting back and forth between Black and MacLaine playing the roles of
Tiede and Nugent. Eventually the towns ambitious District Attorney,
Danny buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) becomes involved.
It's not often
that McConaughey gets third billing in a film, since he is one of
Hollywood's more attractive leading man. However McConaughey has spent
most of his career in interior films, relying on his incomparable smile
and charm to get by. Here he finds himself in a real film that requires
real acting and he lives up to his promise. We can only hope that his
days of insubstantial romantic comedies are over. Not that all romantic
comedies are "insubstantial." Well directed and well written romantic
comedies require as much acting talent as Shakespeare. McConaughey has
found him stuck in romantic comedies that are neither well directed nor
MacLaine both give Oscar – quality performances. Heretofore Maclaine has
generally relied on her beauty and charm. Here she is pictured as an
ugly, shrunken, old shrew, and she pulls it off beautifully.
Black gives the
best performance of his career as the sexually ambiguous funeral
director who finally can't take it anymore and finds himself accused of
a heinous crime.
While all three
stars give marvelous performances, the best performances in the film are
by the actual townspeople of Carthage who knew Bernie. While I was
watching the film, I fully believed that these people were actors
because they were so natural. However, truth be told, all the
townspeople are the actual townspeople who are in Carthage during the
time Bernie was the assistant funeral director. This adds enormous or a
verisimilitude to the film. Further, the outtakes under the closing
credits show that Black spent some time with the real Bernie.
This is one of
the more entertaining movies I've seen this year.
April 19, 2012