Comedy-drama about the life and times of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti, in a Golden Globe winning performance). Based on Mordecai Richler's prize-winning novel. Also stars Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike and Minnie Driver.
A candid confessional, the film spans three decades and two continents, taking us on a tour-de-force of Barney's passions and unusual history. There is his first wife (Rachelle Lefevre, Twilight), a flame-haired, flagrantly unfaithful free sprit with whom Barney briefly lives la vie de Boheme in Rome. The Second Mrs. Panofsky (Driver) is a wealthy Jewish Princess who shops and talks incessantly, barely noticing that Barney is not listening. And it's at their wedding that Barney meets, and starts pursuing, Miriam (Pike), his third wife, the mother of his two children, and his true love. Hoffman is Barney's sidekick and father, Izzy.
Winner for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Giamatti) at the 2010 Golden Globes.
Without having read Mordecai Richler’s 1997 novel which Barney’s Version is adapted from, it’s still abundantly clear that this long, glossily mounted tearjerker exhibits all the usual problems with paring down 400 pages into an orderly feature film.
The dizzying comic energy and intellectual vigor of Mordecai Richler's 1997 satire have largely been drained from director Richard J. Lewis' agreeable but inevitably lesser version of "Barney's Version"...
Whatever the film's flaws, and like its protagonist, there are times when things get a bit out of control, watching Giamatti use Barney to wrestle with success, failure, friendship, love and increasingly with time is exhilarating.