Synopsis for Richard Linklater’s BERNIE Revealed

     April 21, 2011


With the sad unfortunate mess that was Gulliver’s Travels now finally behind us, it’s time for the world to reignite its love affair with Jack Black. If anything can get the pudgy comic back into the world’s good graces, it’s another project with his School Of Rock director Richard Linklater. The filmmaker hasn’t made a movie as financially successful since (it is really too bad that no one saw Me And Orson Welles, even if it was nice to know that the tide turned on Zac Efron that quickly) and Black certainly hasn’t had a film as well received critically since then either, so the timing could be just right for both of their careers.

Hyde Park Entertainment released an official plot synopsis for the upcoming Bernie today and the good news is that it sounds like a pretty odd and offbeat project even more in tune with Linklater’s sensibilities than School Of Rock. Black will star as kind and awkward funeral home assistant who may or may not have killed a domineering and bitter old woman played by Shirley MacLaine. Based on a true story, it could be the oddest film Black or Linklater has made in years and that’s a damn good thing.  Hit the jump for the complete official synopsis and more juicy details.

Bernie is currently deep in post production (most likely with an eye on the fall film festival circuit), but when Hyde Park Entertainment signed on to release the film internationally today, they also released the following synopsis:

Bernie is a dark comedy about a relationship in a small East Texas town between a fussy, but beloved assistant funeral home director (Black) and the town’s domineering grande dame (MacLaine). The film is based on “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas,” an article published in Texas Monthly magazine in 1998. The article chronicles the life of Bernie Tiede, who transformed the town of Carthage with his generosity and who then, to the disbelief of Carthage residents, was arrested for a serious crime.”

When Bernie was initially announced back in August, Linklater described the project as a “Texas Fargo” and that he has been working on for over 10 years. We’ll take that as meaning the film will be a low-key dark comedy with eccentric and locally specific characters, which sounds like a strong combination of elements. It’s a been a while since Linklater aimed his sites at creating a cast of odd and hilarious, yet realistic characters, but lord know the director of Slacker is certainly capable of it. The idea of an opening where Black’s character transforms a town with his generosity definitely sets off some schmaltz alarms, but as long as an old woman dies at least halfway through, there can’t be that much cheese.

jack_blackAnd as if it weren’t enough that Linklater will try to tame Jack Black’s manic tendencies for the film, he’s also cast his ol’ Dazed And Confused buddy Matthew McConaughey in an unnamed role. If Linklater can force McConaughey to wear a shirt for five consecutive seconds and get him to bring back some of his old character actor chops (recently on display in the surprisingly strong The Lincoln Lawyer), the director just might bring some critical credibility back to two guys who he once made stars. Of course it will be impossible to tell if that’s the case until we get to see a trailer. Maybe it’ll be a rude awakening and the film is actually a secret sequel to Weekend At Bernie’s that will finally expand that franchise into the trilogy it always deserved. Only time will tell, but for now Bernie sounds like it has the potential to be one of the more intriguing movies of next fall.

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