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June 18, 2012

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Ben Owen

I had a similarly mixed response to the film, though I think you're right that it's lack of coherence doesn't stop it from being worthwhile in a couple of ways. I was leery about the laughing with/at the townsfolk for their small-town southern ways too. The reviewer for the Village Voice suggested that this expressed the film's complexity, and I think that's true, but I'm not sure if it's necessarily a virtue. But then what's the response? Don't widely distribute a film that records all of these amazing turns of phrase and expressions? That'd be sad. My girlfriend actually faulted the movie for leading the viewer into identification with Bernie as a character, and then using documentary footage to give the ring of truth to the narrative. The skepticism the movie encourages the viewer to feel about what the townsfolk say serves--she thought--to make the Jack Black stuff seem truer, when it seemed to be pretty much just his version of events. I haven't given it too much thought--I was basically just pleased that it was more enjoyable than Men in Black III.

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