Richard Linklater’s new movie contains all the “outrageous” elements obligatory to deadpan, small-town true crime. Nice-guy killer? Meet Bernie Tiede, hymn-singing assistant mortician with a penchant for wooing blue-haired ladies. Macabre corpse disposal? The body of Marjorie Nugent, Tiede’s 81-year-old benefactor, was stashed in a garage freezer for nine months. Ironic upshot? Tiede was so popular after giving Nugent’s fortune away, his trial had to be moved out of town. Yet the one truly daring element in Bernie is the one that makes it seem not like a movie at all. Linklater is a Texas native whose best movies exploit his easy rapport with his shambolic Lone Star compadres. For the first half of Bernie, he uses mockumentary interviews with the main-street gossips of Carthage, Texas, as a kind of Greek chorus. Their piquant observations—“she’d tear you a double-wide, three-bedroom, two-bath asshole”—form the film’s backbone and highlight.
- Showing at: Laurelhurst, Academy.
- Best paired with: BridgePort Kingpin Double Red.
- Also showing: A Cat in Paris (Mission Theater).