BERNIE Tiede is not your typical murderer.
Despite confessing to the shooting of an 81-year-old widow – and now subsequently serving a life sentence – he’s fondly described by colleagues, friends and neighbours as a ‘darn nice guy’.
Up until that fateful day in 1996, which no one saw coming, the rosy-cheeked do-gooder with a ‘killer’ moustache was a pillar of the small community of Carthage, Texas.
When he wasn’t working as an assistant funeral director – fastidiously super-gluing eyes and lips shut – he sang in the church choir, volunteered at the local theatre and visited grieving townsfolk, often buying them gifts.
So when he fired three bullets into his spiteful old companion Marjorie Nugent then stuffed her remains in her garage freezer – preserving the body for a belated funeral, so he claimed – and pretended she was alive for the next nine months, no one really minded.
The only way to have him convicted was to take the trial to another town where folk had never had the pleasure of meeting our killer-with-a-heart-of-gold.
Bernie’s story is fascinating – a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction – and Linklater’s telling, cleverly including real accounts from those who knew him, delivers just the right amount of compelling quirk.
Jack Black gives much weight to our troubled – and deeply closeted – protagonist while managing to do the unthinkable – outshine Shirley MacLaine, who revels in the role of Marjorie.
You simply can’t take your eyes off him, especially as he waddles around in his too-high trousers and knocks out hymns in perfect pitch.
Directed by: Richard Linklater.
Starring: Jack Black, Shirley Maclaine, Matthew McConaughey.
Reviewed by: Sara Fitzpatrick.