Bernie stars Jack Black in the title role based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, a man in his late 30s who was a funeral director in the small town of Carthage, Texas. Bernie, a beloved member of the tight-knit community, lends his musical talents to community theater and church, coaches children’s teams, and helps out in any way he is able. He also befriends the grieving widows of the town. He attempts to console Marjorie Nugent (Shirley McLaine) the much despised recent widow of the town’s richest man. Initially Marjorie shuns Bernie, but one day invites him into her home. From there the pair develops a very close relationship. They take trips together, enjoy musical performances and dine out- all on Marjorie’s dime. Marjorie, who previously had no friends and was estranged from her family, becomes increasingly demanding of Bernie and his time. She also comes to depend on him to take care of her personal needs and finances. As time passes people start to realize Marjorie has not been seen for awhile and questions arise. Enter Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey), the local district attorney, who is especially suspicious of Bernie.
This film was nominated for several awards recognizing independent films. All of the stars give excellent performances, especially an understated Jack Black who was nominated for a Golden Globe. In a stroke of genius, director Richard Linklater intercuts the story with interviews featuring the actual townspeople of Carthage, who without exception like and trust Bernie. This film is oddly touching and darkly humorous. Be sure to watch through the credits at the end to see photos of the real Bernie and Marjorie, as well as footage of Bernie talking with Jack Black.