In the view of Village Voice critic Nick Pinkerton, Richard Linklater‘s Bernie “is that rarest of rarities: a truly unexpected film.

“Is it condescending to its small-town-life subject or sympathetic toward it? This hang-up precludes the possibility of a filmmaker holding two conflicting ideas in mind at the same time, just like we do. Such nonbinary thinking is necessary to approaching an oddity like Bernie, which, in its multiple perspectives, is all about irreconcilable facts and foggy motives, not least the contrary demands of forgiveness written in the Bible and the stern punishment written in the law books.

“In its ornery eccentricity, Bernie spits off more ideas than any American movie in many moons, and it’s not reassuringly conclusive about any of them. Cast and crew will be lucky to escape with their careers intact.”