03 December 2013


Among the many great things associated with having all our children at home for the Thanksgiving holiday was Jeremy's recommendation that we stream the film "Bernie" (2011) Saturday afternoon. I'm not a film fanatic but I was surprised that I hadn't heard of a movie starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey.

The site linked above gives a succinct synopsis of the plot but in brief Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, a small town undertaker who displays all the virtues without quite seeming unctuous. He pays visits to all the widows whose husbands he buries but his relationship with the widow Marjorie Nugent played by Shirley MacLaine takes an unexpected turn when the milquetoast Tiede is unable to extricate himself from the domineering Nugent and ends up shooting her. Based on a true story, we watch Bernie cover up Marjorie's death for nine months only to be caught, tried, and convicted of first-degree murder. Little in the movie would suggest premeditation so one supposes the director and screenwriter chose to underplay ambiguity in favor of setting up the greatest contrast between Bernie and his circumstances.

In any event, I can heartily recommend this film. It's portrayal of small town East Texas life and Christian spirituality struck me as spot on without being patronizing. And who knew Jack Black could sing?

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