Black com­edy a killer

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - EGuide Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

THIS here’s the true story of Bernie Tiede, a mighty pop­u­lar fella up north- east Texas way. How pop­u­lar? Lemme tell you how. Bernie done went and shot an old lady in the back. Four times. Killed her stone dead, he did. Then stuck her body in a freezer in her garage.

Now this didn’t bother the good peo­ple of Carthage none. Many of them small­town folk still reckon that mean old biddy had it com­ing.

In their book, Bernie Tiede did the wrong thing, but went about it the right way.

Yes, be­lieve it or not, Bernie is a re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ence: a feel­good film about murder.

While the sub­ject of the pic­ture got away with noth­ing for his crime – as you read this, Tiede is sit­ting in a jail cell – Texan film­maker Richard Lin­klater gets off all charges of treat­ing a heavy mat­ter lightly.

Just how he does it comes down to the clever con­struc­tion of his movie.

This as­ton­ish­ing tale is re­lated in a faux­doc­u­men­tary style, with many ac­tual res­i­dents who know and love Bernie Tiede to this very day do­ing much of the talk­ing.

The way they ex­plain how events un­folded be­tween Bernie, a well- re­spected as­sis­tant funeral di­rec­tor and tire­less community worker, and Mrs Mar­jorie Nu­gent, a no­to­ri­ously un­pleas­ant widow who ran the lo­cal bank, makes the ab­so­lutely un­for­giv­able come across as, well, kind of un­der­stand­able.

Of course, some prin­ci­pal play­ers ei­ther re­fused to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­duc­tion or were oth­er­wise de­tained. So some well- known ac­tors were brought in.

Jack Black ( pic­tured) plays Bernie Tiede, and ap­plies the cor­rect shades of com­edy and pathos to his por­trait of an odd lit­tle man who wanted noth­ing more than to be liked. And turned out to be mighty good at it.

Shirley MacLaine has the role of Mrs Nu­gent, and she hu­man­ises this dif­fi­cult and de­mand­ing old lady in a man­ner that never stoops to cur­mud­geonly car­i­ca­ture.

Com­plet­ing a tri­fecta of fine per­for­mances is Matthew McConaughey as Danny Buck, Carthage’s show­boat­ing dis­trict- at­tor­ney.

Though not the most like­able fig­ure him­self, Buck is merely see­ing that jus­tice is done. His pres­ence as the sole voice of rea­son is im­por­tant. As are Buck’s in­cred­u­lous re­sponses to how the whole of Carthage can view him as a big­ger vil­lain than Bernie.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.