17 August 2012 | 2:11 pm | Vicki Englund

There are several good reasons to see this film, the first being the brilliant and uncharacteristically understated performance from Jack Black, who plays opposite screen legend, Shirley MacLaine. The second is that it's a Richard Linklater film. Linklater made his name in the '90s with Dazed & Confused, Waking Life and Before Sunrise (followed years later by Before Sunset), and he directed Black in School Of Rock. Bernie is based on an article about the real-life Bernie Tiede, played by Black, and it's a fascinating story.

Bernie is a mortician in Carthage, Texas, and he's the nicest, most solicitous guy you could meet. A pillar of the community who attends church, supports charities and performs in local theatre productions, he meets the elderly wealthy widow, Marjorie (MacLaine), when he prepares her dead husband for his funeral. The pair strike up an extremely close friendship and become inseparable. But after a few years of this platonic intimacy (Bernie's pretty obviously gay), the cranky old cow, Marjorie, finally pushes Bernie to do something drastic. What follows is the 'truth being stranger than fiction' part.

Matthew McConaughey is at first almost unrecognisable as the sunglasses-wearing DA Danny Buck – a man who starts to suspect Bernie of being a money-hunting shyster even though everyone else won't hear a word said against him. The characters in the small town are all delightfully offbeat but genuine, and the end result is a triumph, especially for Jack Black, who should be up for a swathe of awards for this role.

In cinemas nationally