Resolutions 2016: Bernie


Hi there, friends! Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end, yeah? Sadly, that is the case today as far as guest posts for my Resolutions series are concerned. But we’re ending on a pretty excellent note with the return of a good friend of mine, Miss Brittney! Now the name may not ring a bell, but for those of you who have been with me for a long while, this might: waaaayyyy back in 2013 when I first started my NOOOOvember series, a lady who called herself HoneyB wrote about how disappointed she was by Get Him to the Greek. Well, surprise! HoneyB was totally Brittney. She doesn’t have a blog that I can promote, but I will say that I’ve known her for years, she’s been a longtime movie buddy, and she’s a pretty rockin’ chick. So heed her opinion because she totally knows what she’s talking about. Anyway, let’s see what Brittney thought of her resolution!

I admit that I was hesitant about watching this film, not because of the actors or the story, but simply because people kept telling me to watch it. Now this isn’t to say that I don’t love a good suggestion, but the past few times people had hyped something up for me, I have found myself to be very disappointed from a mixture of inflated expectations and the fact that some of the people I know tend to have questionable taste from time to time, haha. However, I kept finding Bernie make its way to the front of my “Top Picks for Brittney” tab on Netflix, so I gave in and said what the hell? I had a couple hours to spare, so why not. Just a forewarning, there are spoilers ahead, sooooo if you’re the kind of person who can’t watch a movie after being told major details, then I suggest you get thee to a Netflix account, red box, antiquated video store, etc and watch this and then come back and read because there’s just no way to discuss this film without some major plot points being revealed :). Let’s get to it, y’all.

My trusty IMDb synopsis: 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.


What I Loved:

  • JACK FUCKING BLACK. I pretty much always love Jack Black in anything he does, but this film was a really interesting new color on him. He played Bernie Tiede with a lovely balance of innocence, quirk, sweetness, with just a hint of trouble. Now, if you happened to be well-read on the subject of the film, the murder of 80-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent in 1996, then you’d know that Bernie is supposed to be the one you root against. I mean, he murdered an old lady. But what I love about Black is that he made Bernie so much more than that. He actually gets you, or at least he got me, to kind of root for him a little bit. He gives Bernie this quality that makes you empathize with him and even though you know how the story has to turn out, you kind of hope no one finds out it was him (especially after some points I discuss later).
  • The story and its execution. What I mean by this is that Linklater took a real murder story and trial and not only turned its already bizarre happenings into something that flowed nicely, but he also did this really cool concept where he spliced the events of the film with interview vignettes from both actors and real people who knew Bernie that really gave it this more personal feel. He didn’t do this in a way that would normally annoy me either and honestly, most of the vignettes are pretty freaking hilarious.
  • The fact that you wind up kinda loving Bernie. I love that you wind up, or at least in my case, siding with Bernie. Pretty much if you don’t know the basis of this story, Bernie is this mild mannered mortician at a funeral home that is super friendly and extremely present in the community. He volunteers, he does community theatre productions, he’s a worship leader at his church, he’s pretty much everyone’s favorite person. So when he starts hanging around the curmudgeon older Marjorie Nugent, who is pretty much the epitome of bitch, people think that it’s really nice of him and being around him seems to soften her rather rough edges. However, you see that softness start to fade as she begins to slowly break down Bernie’s spirit. She constantly abuses him both verbally and emotionally and taking into account that he was abused as a child, this proves to be too much after awhile and he snaps, having a dissociative episode as he shoots Marjorie, killing her. And see, that’s not something you’re supposed to side with, but I found that between Shirley MacLaine’s surly and amazing performance as Nugent and Jack Black’s organic and heartfelt performance, that it was almost too hard to not hate her and to love him and I love that this film could do that.
  • Matthew McConaughey being a pain in the ass. This might seem like a weird reason to love a film, but I found that I loved seeing McConaughey in this role because he wasn’t playing a bullshit character, but he was playing one that is on the right side of the law that you still manage to kinda dislike. He portrays district attorney Danny Buck Davidson who tries the case against Bernie for the prosecution. He basically spearheads a lot of the discoveries of Bernie murdering Nugent, attempting to cover it up, and basically is suspicious of Bernie the whole time and throughout the film, I found that I was constantly hoping he would just mind his own business and leave well enough alone, which we know he can’t do. I mean, damn, the man is just doing his job and yet, you’re still kind of rooting against the guy even though he’s right. Also, Davidson is the main crusader in charging Bernie with first degree murder because he felt like intent was premeditated, a point of contention throughout the trial (which was later overturned because of the evidence presented that he had indeed been abused as a child and had a mental break during the murder). McConaughey brought something refreshing to this role that I really loved for him as an actor. It had a sense of humor to it, even though his character is constantly serious, which is what makes it so funny because he’s not hitting us with shtick like his earlier roles used to do.
  • I’m still deciding how I feel. I love films that constantly make you think, even after it’s over. One of the biggest arguments of the case is that Bernie killed her for her money because she lavishly spent on him and for trips they would go on. A lot of people thought that even though she had done this, that he didn’t really care that much about the money; more so, he had very little freedom from Nugent as she became increasingly clingy, possessive, and downright nasty, and he felt like he had started to suffocate, which caused his snap. Now, I tend to side more with the latter, but the beauty of this film is that both are presented to you so you can decide for yourself.

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What I Didn’t Like:

  • The outcome. What’s nice about this is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the film. The lines between right and wrong get so blurred in this film that it makes you question the legal system and the true meaning of justice.

This literally never happens with me, but I honestly don’t have any critiques on this film. The directing, acting, cinematography, and script are so on point that I have very little that I did not enjoy about this film. It kept me so engaged the whole time, it was a perfect length, and had everything I look for in a film, so I am grateful once again for Netflix’s genius in constantly suggesting it until I finally gave in and boy, am I glad I did.

What I give this film: a solid A :).

Many thanks to you, Brittney! I love bringing people I know in real life to my blog. It’s like worlds colliding in a really awesome way. And thanks to ALL of you who participated in Resolutions! I’m going to be giving you a proper thank you when this series ends, but there are a couple posts of my own I want to get out before I call it a wrap–which won’t be this week, actually. I had every intention to finish this week, but…well, life. Haha. But expect another resolution from me on Friday and one more next week. See ya then! 🙂

7 thoughts on “Resolutions 2016: Bernie

  1. Very cool to have someone from your “real life” contribute to your blog. And she picked a fine movie to discuss. Bernie is wonderfully quirky and indeed does all the things Brittney says it does. Great post.

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