Barry Panofsky is one of the great comic characters of modern literature. Mordecai Richler gave him life as an impulsive, romantic, politically incorrect and fearlessly blunt creature subject to his impulses. And now, Paul Giamatti adds flesh and blood, and a vast emotional range in this immensely enjoyable adaptation directed by Richard J. Lewis.
Shifting seamlessly between the highs and lows of his life in Montreal as an adult philanderer, and his coming of age in seventies Italy, Barney’s Version follows its hero as he seeks solace through marriage and professional success. His first wife, Clara (Rachelle Lefevre), is an unstable free spirit Barney meets through his best friend, the promising but self-destructive novelist, Boogie (Scott Speedman). When his relationship with Clara ends in tragedy, Barney returns to Montreal, establishes himself as a successful television producer running Totally Unnecessary Productions, and marries into society through the good graces and welcoming charms of The Second Mrs. P (Minnie Driver).
But Barney never knows when to leave well enough alone. At his wedding to Mrs P., he meets and falls madly for the true love of his life, Miriam (Rosamund Pike), who is destined to become his third wife. His dad (Dustin Hoffman) gives him a gun as a wedding present and, well, no need to spoil the plot, but when Barney is implicated in Boogie’s mysterious disappearance, the spectre of the past raises its ugly head.
Richler’s acclaimed novel has found its ideal champion in Canadian producer Robert Lantos, who devoted the last twelve years to shaping this film. And in Paul Giamatti –whose Barney is equal parts sour and tender, vicious and vulnerable – the film has its ideal star. Beautifully supported by a stellar cast and Lewis’s crisp direction, this is a Barney Panofsky Richler would have been proud of: a man with a huge appetite for life, searching for love and running from death. –TIFF
The tale of the very flawed, very human Barney Panofsky and the very flawed, very human people in his life. Barney undervalues himself and everything he does and seems perpetually afraid of being caught living a life he doesn't seem to feel he earned or deserves. As a result of his fear he breaks what he most values in his life. Astonishingly credible characters mostly doing the best they can in their lives.
"Ballet has been mourned as a dying art so often in recent years (even by its devotees — dark ash weeps from the sky at the demise of
"The dizzying comic energy and intellectual vigor of Mordecai Richler's 1997 satire have largely been drained from director Richard J Lewis
A quite unusual film that does not follow the usual paths of easily digestible and perfectly compositioned storytelling but instead chronicles the rather adventurous, complicated and utterly ruminative… read review
I will start this by saying that I have not read the novel this is based upon, and I am only speaking to what I experienced from watching the film.
The protagonist of this film, Barney Panofsky… read review