Indie icon Richard Linklater returns to his Texas roots in this delightfully poker-faced black comedy—based on a true story—about East Texas assistant funeral home director Bernie Tiede, beloved for his generosity and sweet spirit. So well liked is Bernie, especially by the town’s elderly ladies, that nobody in Carthage will say a bad thing about him, even when he commits a very nasty crime. –Los Angeles Film Festival
Self-taught writer/director Richard Linklater was among the first and most successful talents to emerge during the American independent film renaissance of the 1990s. Typically setting each of his movies during one 24-hour period, Linklater’s work explored what he dubbed “the youth rebellion continuum,” focusing in fine detail on generational rites and mores with rare compassion and understanding while definitively capturing the twenty-something culture of his era through a series of nuanced, illuminating ensemble pieces which introduced any number of talented young actors into the Hollywood firmament. Born in Houston, TX, in 1960, Linklater suspended his educational career at Sam Houston State University to work on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He subsequently relocated to the state’s capital of Austin, where he founded a film society and began work on his debut short film, 1987’s It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books. Three years later he released the sprawling… read more
I wanted to like this, and I can see why people think its sweet but personally i found this film quite boring and this humour was very dry. I thought the best thing about the film was the fact that Jack Black actually met the real Bernie in order to get in character. It just seemed quite mundane.
Mixing reality & fiction with gay abandon & a nasty sense of humor, manages to make fun of our commericalized death industry, media convictions by the public, all the while playing havoc with the more than willing ease with which we identify with film personae. What is more uncommon is that the townspeople arent portrayed purely satirically: there is a real warmth and tenderness to the way they come off the screen.
I'm not sure what I expected from this film and I'm not sure what it delivered, either. There were times when I thought the film wanted to be satirical or humorous or quirky or dark or intellectual — et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I don't think any of those efforts fell through. Pretty mediocre at best, imo.
Reviews of the film are mixed, but appreciation for Linklater is undiluted.
Updated through 6/27. This year's Los Angeles Film Festival, running through June 26, opens tonight with the latest from Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater dips his toe into the Coen Brothers’ style in giving us an endearing and amusing fictionalized account of funeral director Bernie Tiede’s rise and fall in an East Texas town. The… read review