A story so unbelievable it must be true.

Jack Black reunites with School of Rock director Richard Linklater for this dark comedy about the murder of a wealthy, elderly Texan widow (Shirley MacLaine) by her middle-aged companion (Black). Matthew McConaughey plays the local DA. Based on a true story.... More

Bernie is a portly, well-liked mortician in small-town Texas who befriends cantankerous widower Marjorie. After killing her (shooting her in the back with a rifle) for financial gain, he goes to great lengths to make it appear she is still alive. When Marjorie's body is eventually discovered and DA Danny Buck Davidson starts pointing the finger at Bernie, the towns residents rally to his defence.Hide

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Flicks Review

“A story so unbelievable it must be true,” the tagline declares, vaguely describing the murder of Marjorie Nugent at the hands of Bernie Tiede, the sweetest man in Carthage, Texas. And yet, despite the bizarre chain of true events that led to his imprisonment, Bernie is grounded in a delightful authenticity that prevents it from entering the realm of the absurd and implausible.... More

Director Richard Linklater knows how to get the most out of his actors (well, he tried his best with Keanu in A Scanner Darkly), conjuring fantastic, genuine performances once again from Jack Black as Tiede and Matthew McConaughey, the swaggering local District Attorney. Shirley MacLaine also busts out a great portrayal of Tiede’s sugar-mama über-bitch, at the level of quality typically expected from her.

Linklater’s true triumph, however, is in the way he flawlessly integrates the real-life testimonials of the townsfolk into the narrative. There is a unique collective personality to the small Texan community, one that is vital to understanding the unusual position Tiede is placed in. The town’s charm is impossible to replicate, and watching it being expressed naturally through Carthage's residents is an absolute joy.

That’s not to discredit the fiction at all. Bernie is a superbly written and lovingly told account of a quirky slice of American crime history with a tender bittersweet ending. Congratulations Jack Black, you made me forgive you for Gulliver’s Travels.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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... where Bernie visits the scene of a teenage car crash. One of the teenagers in the crash has been killed, and is lifted onto a stretcher while Bernie is speaking to the rest of the students. The "dead" teenager visibly laughs.

Dead (pun intended) serious and wildly funny, Bernie is captivating and, regardless of little moments such as the laughter of a dead teenager, will leave you reflecting on what you just saw for a while after it ends - It's a brilliant little piece of filmmaking.

I have often found Richard Linklaters films to be rather inconsistent and I had concern going into this that would be no different as it featured Jack Black who can be brilliant (School of Rock, High Fidelity) or he can just be over the top and annoying (Gullivers Travels) My worries were unfounded. Bernie is an extremely entertaining film, although perhaps slightly too long. The film is about the bizarre circumstances that surrounded the murder of Majorie Nugent by her friend and companion... More Bernie. The amazing thing about the murder is the reaction by the rest of the town. After all Bernie was so very popular that no body believes he could have done it, and if he did she actually deserved to die. This adds a very surreal aspect to the film. It is however a good watch, and Jack Black gives a very straight performance and is very touching in parts.Hide

The Press Reviews

90% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Though the lightness of Bernie can get disconcerting at times, even cartoonish, Linklater approaches the story with a bemused curiosity that seems about right under the circumstances. Full Review

  • I had to forget what I knew about Black. He creates this character out of thin air, it's like nothing he's done before, and it proves that an actor can be a miraculous thing in the right role. Full Review

  • A splendid performance by Jack Black distinguishes this overly mild look at a 1990s Texas murder. Full Review

  • Gaudily vibrant, at times morbidly funny. Full Review

  • No use trying to describe Bernie. It's a one-of-a-kind inspiration. You will never feel closer to a convicted killer. Full Review

  • Bernie, a triumph of small-scale, regional pulp, doesn’t quite operate as a menacing thriller, nor as a one-note yokel comedy. Full Review

  • Interspersing "real" people with professional actors, Linklater creates a vivid, gossipy Greek chorus that serves as a kind of collective unreliable narrator -- an altogether appropriate stance given the moral gray zone the sweetly confounding Bernie inhabits. Full Review

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