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Killer Angel

A mesmerizing tale starring the nice people of Carthage, Texas.

Jun 4, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 36 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
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In one sense, Bernie is not stranger than fiction because the story was anticipated by a work of fiction. That would be John Millington Synge’s great and strange 1907 play, The Playboy of the Western World, in which a youth who arrives in a small town claiming to have killed his own father becomes, first, a figure of curiosity to the excited and scandalized townsfolk and, eventually, a full-fledged rock star. Then the townsfolk discover he didn’t actually kill the old man, and it is only at this point that they shun and condemn him as a coward and a crook. 

The Playboy of the Western World provoked bloody riots when it was first performed because it seemed to mock both a vicious criminal act and the Irish people. A work of art provoking wide-scale violence? Today, such a thing wouldn’t be stranger than fiction; it would be science fiction. The problem with Bernie is not that it will cause anyone to riot. The problem is whether the producers can get anybody to go out and see it. You should.

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic.

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