Richard Linklater's oddball look at a Texas murder opened the Los Angeles Film Festival Thursday night.
More than the film that surrounds him, Jack Black is worth the price of admission in Bernie, an oddball May-December true life crime story that would have profited from being a whole lot darker and full-bodied than it is. It took Richard Linklater the better part of a decade to put together this seriocomic look at Bernie Tiede, a fastidious, devout mortician who befriended the crabbiest rich old lady in Carthage, Texas, and was later tried for her murder. The result, however, comes across as less impassioned than mild-mannered, a conflicted portrait of small town attitudes but, most importantly, an opportunity for Black to sink his teeth into a role unlike any he's ever played before. It's hard to imagine what the audience may be for this odd duck of a film, which opened the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival and has no distributor as yet, but it's safe to say that the box office tally won't come anywhere near that of the previous Linklater-Black collaboration, The School of Rock, eight years ago.
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