“The Burial”: Movie seems to be playing to good reviews


After a short theatre opening the movie “The Burial” has been available for on-demand viewing on Amazon Prime since October 13.  Based somewhat on the 1990’s legal case between defunct Canadian funeral home acquisition company the Loewen Group and a group of death care properties owned by funeral director Jeremiah O’Keefe in Mississippi the movie had been highly anticipated by many in the death care profession.


While the profession all knew the outcome of the decades old legal case, much of the death care profession was concerned with how the profession itself would be portrayed in the movie.  This review from the entertainment publication Variety says this about the role of funeral director Jeremiah O’Keefe, “The character who comes off looking like a hero here is Jerry . .


I have not yet seen the picture so I cannot comment further other than to say, that maybe Variety’s synopsis of  O’Keefe’s portrayal,  is a good omen for us funeral directors.


From what I’ve read about the movie so far is that it is a very entertaining motion picture.  It seems to set on the court room drama more than it does on the funeral director or funeral home aspect which is probably a good thing for funeral homes.  The reviews that I’ve read seem to make out the CEO of the Loewen Group, Ray Loewen, as the bad apple in the movie.


When I see the movie, I’m most interested in seeing how the funeral profession is displayed in the film.  Again, from what I hear, the role of funeral director Jeremiah O’Keefe played by movie star Tommy Lee Jones comes off as a sympathetic human being who the movie puts in a role of being taken advantage of.  I don’t think that type of role can be a bad image for family owned funeral home owners.


To the contrary. . . it may be the corporate concerns in the death care profession that may be perceived as “Loewen-like” and may have some question their integrity because of this movie.


Here’s another review from RogerEbert.com


Rotten Tomatoes review scorecard, which you can see here, gives the movie a 91% positive review rating.


RelatedHere’s a recent article from the Cinemaholic entitled “Do Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home and the Loewen Group still exist?”  The article gives some history as to what happened to these firms since the infamous court case.


RelatedHere’s the Wikipedia page for the movie.  


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  1. Brooks on October 31, 2023 at 11:44 am

    I began working as a funeral and cemetery broker in 1990 and we sold a lot of businesses to Loewen during this time. They simply paid more than other buyers. I was in a meeting with Loewen execs at the NFDA national convention in Orlando the afternoon that the verdict came down and my client noticed that the Loewen execs seemed really nervous, noting that TH had 2 cigarettes going at the same time. As we were leaving the Peabody for dinner that night, the “joke” was that you better sprint to your cab because Loewen execs were going to be jumping from the top floor.
    I had the same reaction as Bill to the settlement negotiations where O’keefe supposedly turned down $75M. I always heard it was Loewen who refused to settle on the eve of the verdict for somewhere south of $15M. Anyone know for sure?

  2. Bill on October 30, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    I lived through this via press releases and yes…The WWW. I really enjoyed the movie.

    I do think a lot of creative licence was taken, especially near the end. I don’t think Ray Loewen was that bad just a businessman doing what everyone else was doing.
    I do think Loewen did exactly what SCI was doing a lot more and a long time before. The “tone” that the big bad Canadian was coming to get you…was silly.
    *Canadians are good people.

    When do we get the SCI movie and all the stuff they’ve done the last 50 years?

    Jerry wasn’t totally sweet and innocent here either. His lawyer was smart.
    He sued because he wasn’t getting paid.
    Why didn’t he just sell to SCI or others was the question I kept asking myself?

    There were 5-6 consolidators at the time doing the same thing. However, if what Loewen did what they said he did to the black church org. then he deserves what he got. That was bad. I’d like that confirmed.

    The silly “creative licence” part that bugged me was the settlement negotiations near the end. No way that happened. No way Jerry knocked back that last offer. It was pretty close to what they wanted anyway. Plus, the big amount was knocked down a lot.

    Was still exciting and fun.
    Shows how good an actor Foxx and Jones are in they could take a basically boring subject and make a long movie, interesting and fun.

  3. Joe Weigel on October 30, 2023 at 11:10 am

    Actually, I believe the death care properties were owned by Jerry O’Keefe’s father, Jeremiah O’Keefe.

  4. Ray Visotski on October 30, 2023 at 6:22 am

    I’m old enough to already been working in funeral service when all this happened. I enjoyed the movie, but in my opinion, you have to look very hard to see anything actually pertaining to what we do.

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