Review: Barney's Version


Directed by: Richard J. Lewis
Written by:Michael Konyves (screenplay), Mordecai Richler (novel)
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Rachelle Lefevre, Scott Speedman, Dustin Hoffman
Released: March 24, 2011
Grade: B+

Barney Panofsky (Giamatti) has lived a pretty interesting life.  He’s been married three times, he’s produced a successful television show and he’s even been accused of murder.  I don’t know quite how to sum up his personality but there’s a bit of everything in there – he’s seductive, he’s neurotic, he’s impulsive.

Barney is now in his mid-60s and hasn’t been in the best of health.  It seems to have given him a newfound clarity about himself.  He realises that he’s in the final chapter of his life story and so he takes the opportunity to reflect back on how he got here.  What we’ll see is “Barney’s version” of events.

The film delicately mixes genres by recounting some of the humorous moments and heartbreaking moments in Barney’s life.  He certainly had an up and down ride when it came to love.  He met his third wife at the wedding reception for his second marriage!  The film’s tagline aptly sums it up – “First he got married. Then he got married again. Then he met the love of his life.”

It takes a little while to warm up but Barney’s Version is a charming film that will leave you reflecting on your own life.  I’m not in my mid-60s just yet but if I do make it that far, how will I look back on my life today?  Do I appreciate what I have and am I making the most of my opportunities? 

Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) gives a fantastic performance and he deservedly won the Golden Globe award for best actor in a comedy.  He has the perfect demeanour for this character – a little rough around the edges but hard not to like.  He’s backed by a strong supporting cast including the elegant Rosamund Pike (An Education) and the scene stealing Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man).

Barney’s Version seemed to get lost amongst the other contenders during the recent awards season in the United States but it’s nice to seeing it getting a release in Australia.  Make sure you check it out.