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Bernie - Film Review

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by Lauren Nolan (subscribe)
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When a funeral director kills a widow

This darkly comedic story which is incidentally based on true events follows the story of Bernie Tiede, an assistant funeral director in the small gossip infused town of Carthage, Texas.

Bernie (Jack Black) is a greatly loved and respected member of the community who doesn't have a bad word to say about anyone. He transformed the funeral business with his exceptional selling skills, unwavering empathy and his knack for going above and beyond for his "customers". The plot thickens when Bernie befriends the bitter elderly widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley Maclaine) after her husband's funeral. Nugent nasty attitude and high-horse demeanour has earned her a place on the towns blacklist not to mention on everyone's gossip radar.

Bernie and Mrs Nugent's companionship rocks the town and no one can believe why such a lovely man would want to spend time with a bitter old lady. They travel the world together, wine and dine in the best restaurants all with Mrs Nugent's excessive bank balance. As their relationship progresses, Mrs Nugent becomes exceedingly more dependant on Bernie and demands him to file her toe nails and pluck her chin hairs. She even locks him in her estate when he tries to leave. Bernie's brightly lit happiness slowly starts to diminish, he begins to feel trapped and suffocated by Mrs Nugent's possessive behaviour. One fateful day as they were leaving to go have lunch, Bernie's eyes fall on a shotgun in the garage. In a hast moment of resentfulness Bernie shoots Mrs Nugent in the back. He is instantly remorseful and instead of hiding the body he places her in the deep freezer under her frozen pot pies- to preserve the body of course.

Due to Mrs Nugent's unbearable personality, no one questions her disappearance that Bernie passes off as illness- not even her family try to visit her. It's the eager financial planner that gets suspicious when he hasn't heard from his demanding client for 9 months that begins the unravelling of Bernie's misfortune.

This movie is intelligent and funny, I was moved by the how it displayed the ambiguous nature of the human psyche. There isn't always a black and white in a situation, sometimes there's a sea of grey where right and wrong aren't always as clear as they should be. This movie is a beautiful depiction of that. For more information on this film visit Madman.

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