After moving to Carthage, Bernie soon becomes a popular figure in the town thanks to his kind nature and community spirit. In particular, Bernie seems to have a knack for befriending older widows whose husbands' funerals he has overseen, leading him to become the only ally and confidant of Majorie Nugent (played with trembling rage by Shirley MacLaine). They take trips together, all over the world; she bankrolls his community efforts.
The townsfolk's steadfast support of Bernie is both shocking and heartwarming, and the way they vocalise that support is witty and touching in equal measure. As the credits roll, more testimonials by the townsfolk of Carthage appear. Almost every audience member in my Saturday night screening at the Glasgow Film Festival stayed in their seats through to the end of the credits; a tribute to just how effective Linklater's tactic of self-presentation was.
Linklater has been consistently excellent over the course of his career, with mainstream successes like School of Rock (2003) nestled in among esoteric experiments like Waking Life (2001) and the masterly Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly (2006). Bernie may be something of a minor piece in a filmography as rich as Linklater's, likely to be overlooked in favour of the upcoming Before Midnight (2013), but it deserves to be seen and loved as widely as possible.
The 2013 Glasgow Film Festival runs from 14-24 February. For more of our GFF coverage, simply follow this link.