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Barney's Version (2011)


Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 132
Fresh: 105
Rotten: 27

Critics Consensus: With a magnificent performance by Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version offers much comedy and insight to the complexities of modern romance.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 33
Fresh: 27
Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: With a magnificent performance by Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version offers much comedy and insight to the complexities of modern romance.


Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 18,051


Movie Info

Based on Mordecai Richler's award winning novel -- his last and, arguably, best -- "Barney's Version" is the warm, wise and witty story of the politically incorrect life of Barney Panofsky. The film spans three decades and two continents. There is his first wife, Clara, a flame-haired, flagrantly unfaithful free sprit. The "Second Mrs. P." is a wealthy Jewish Princess who shops and talks incessantly. It is at their lavish wedding that Barney meets, and starts pursuing, Miriam, his third wife, … More

R (for language and some sexual content)
Drama , Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Jun 28, 2011
Box Office:
Sony Classics - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Barney's Version

All Critics (132) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (105) | Rotten (27) | DVD (2)

The movie, much like your own life, is best enjoyed when you don't know exactly what happens next.

Full Review… | March 18, 2011
Top Critic

Sometimes, when a movie emerges from a book, a crucial ingredient gets left out along the way. In the case of "Barney's Version," it's the wit.

Full Review… | February 17, 2011
Seattle Times
Top Critic

"Barney's Version" has episodes instead of plot, outbursts instead of wit and alibis instead of growth. But it also has a star we'd be willing to watch in "Barney's Version 2.0."

Full Review… | February 11, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Highly entertaining and arguably the most satisfying Richler screen adaptation to date.

Full Review… | February 11, 2011
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

This has the overstuffed feel of a sprawling, life-spanning story that's been wrestled down to feature length.

Full Review… | February 11, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The parts are greater than the whole in "Barney's Version," a rambling look at a shambling man's adventures in love.

Full Review… | February 11, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

Messy, melodramatic and meandering, just like life.

Full Review… | January 18, 2013
Movie Nation

Giamatti and Hoffman are so much fun, and they are tied to a narrative that, while slightly overambitious, never flags

Full Review… | August 16, 2011

It's Giamatti's performance that makes the film work because Barney is not an easy man to like.

Full Review… | August 16, 2011
The Jewish Advocate

Director Richard J. Lewis never quite gets a handle on the sprawling storyline and stumbles over the tonal shifts... but Giamatti holds the center together.

Full Review… | July 1, 2011

A minor improvement over Mordecai Richler's nigh unreadable book...

Full Review… | July 1, 2011
Reel Film Reviews

Paul Giamatti is one of those actors whose presence in a movie generally validates it, and Barney's Version is no exception. He manages to make a central character with few-if any-admirable traits not only bearable but downright compelling. And...

Full Review… | June 29, 2011
Leonard Maltin's Picks

An initially engrossing but progressively rambling and schmaltzy film that's mostly saved by a set of fine, if not exceptional performances.

Full Review… | June 21, 2011

Barney's Version starts fumblingly in picaresque mode, and only really hits its narrative and emotional stride in its second half.

Full Review… | April 22, 2011
Screen International

Giammatti is on the top of his game in this Pitch black comedy.

Full Review… | April 13, 2011
Empire Magazine Australasia

If there's such a thing as a filmmaker treating its subject matter too affectionately, then this is that, and it makes you wonder why you should even keep watching.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011

The ever-impressive Paul Giamatti (American Splendour, John Adams) shines in this rambling Canadian character study.

Full Review… | March 31, 2011
The Age (Australia)

Mordecai Richler's 1997 acclaimed best seller novel is never fleshed out.

Full Review… | March 27, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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.

Full Review… | March 24, 2011
ABC Radio Brisbane

True love and fine cigars feature in the charming Barney's Version, a blend of intelligent comedy and stirring drama headlined by a career best Paul Giamatti.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
Matt's Movie Reviews

[The] character has given Giamatti another great role after Sideways and Harvey Pekar and he runs with it; no wonder he won a Golden Globe for this.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
At the Movies (Australia)

If Giamatti's performance is rigorously unsentimental, director Richard Lewis and writer Michael Konyves (adapting Morechai Richler's novel) succumb, a little too often, to slow-moving warmth and wryness.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
The Age (Australia)

The film offers a lovely mix of compassion and humour. We get a sprawling comic tableau, the arc of a full life.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald

Just like a really good novel, it gets you so well acquainted with its characters that they start to feel like your friends, and you don't want it to finish because that will mean never seeing them again.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
FILMINK (Australia)

A rather pedestrian film, epic in length but curiously pinched in scope.

Full Review… | March 21, 2011
One Guy's Opinion

One of the key flaws in the film: Barney is not likeable or admirable, or charismatic or charming or clever at anything

Full Review… | March 21, 2011
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Barney's Version

A man meets the woman of his dreams at his wedding.
After you suspend your disbelief that any woman would fall for a man who woos her at his own wedding, you might enjoy this film. There are some funny moments, but Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman wring a dramatic tale out of the lunacy. The key is the honesty of Giamatti's portrayal. He's committed to the character's integrity, even if that integrity belies anything a reasonable person might encounter in real life. Particularly compelling are the film's final moments.
Overall, this is a tour de force for Giamatti even if the film defies believability.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


This is the story, told in confessional form, of 30 years of the life of Barney Panofsky. The film covers a lot of stuff in his life, but the primary focus is on his three marriages: the first to an openly adulterous free spirit, the second to a stereotypical Jewish American Princess, and the third, to the love of his life...whom he has a few kids with, and fist met (and fell in love with) on the day he married wife #2.

Considering the subject matter, it might seem like this is a Woody Allen film, but alas, it is not. It's based on a novel and stars Paul Giamatti. Other than the women, the other big presence in Barney's life is his father Izzy, played here by the great Dustin Hoffman.

I thought I would like this dramedy. It just seemed like something I would dig. In the end though, I didn't like it. It's overlong, dawn out, fairly slow, and yeah, the subject matter is something that I can easily get tired of, even when it really is done by Woody. I'm not being racist or anti-semitic here. I can only take so much of heavy Jewish shtick (or, for that matter, black, or even Catholic), before it gets dull and tedious.

And in this movie, not really a whole lot is done to make the story come off as remarkable or special. Yeah, there's a murder subplot, but that comes off as a bit odd and sticks out.

I will give praise to the cast and their performances though. That's the main thing that keeps me from giving the film a lower grade. BEsides Giamatti and Hoffman, the three wives are played by (in order) Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike. Nothing to complain about here. Bruce Greenwood is also present, but barely, thus his talent is basically wasted. The film does feature though, what is probably the best performance Scott Speedman has given. He plays a wild buddy of Barney's, and made me wish he was in even more of the film, and he's in a decent amount of it.

As far as the technicals go, this is a well made film. It just needed to be shorter, tighter, and less boring.

I don't recommend this, but if you feel the need to see it, do so only for the acting. And sure, even the makeup. That was decent, too.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

First he got married. Then he got married again. Then he met the love of his life.

Excellent Film!!!! Loved it. Superb performances by all actors. Give yourself a night off, forget about your problems and find out about Barney's problems and his friends problems, and his wive's problems. It will make your life seem better. Barney's Version is based upon the novel of the same name by Mordecai Richler. The film spans several decades showing us the life of a man named Barney Panofsky. There is a great deal of comedy in this film as we laugh together with Barney and his antics and sometimes laugh right at him for his unsophisticated and ignorant ways. However as I said above we do get to see many different sides of Barney as the film goes along and after awhile I stopped thinking that this character is full of himself and kind of a jerk. Instead, I realized and I think the point of the writing and the film itself was to present him as a normal human being with some very good points and also some very obvious flaws, or things they need to work on, which in a sense I think describes just about anybody you can think of. This film is a real powerfully emotional film. Yes there is the comedy aspect, but it goes so beyond that by showing the inevitable difficulties we will all end up facing in life and I think because it is done so strongly here, it makes us reflect on our own lives and the choices we have made so far no matter how old, or young you are and whether those choices have been good, or just the opposite. The writing of the characters and what makes them so human is one of the film's strongest points because they all have wonderfully different personalities and are all a joy to watch as we watch their lives unfold before us. The acting is also wonderful here especially by Paul Giamatti, who plays Barney in what I would call one of the best male performances of 2010. He embodies the role so perfectly and we can see the emotion, the hurt, the humour and everything coming out of this brilliant performance. The supporting actors and actresses are all very good here as well. I was so pleased at what an involving film this was. It took me away from my own world and thoughts and put me instead into Barney's world and made me laugh, cry and reflect with them and what a wonderful experience that was. Barney's Version is not only entertaining, but also deeply human and full of humour and tragedy that will both touch our hearts and leave us with what I think is a wonderful and insightful night out at the movies. Barney's Version is one of the best films of 2010 and I hope both American and Canadian audiences will embrace it and go out to see this wonderful gem. Go see this people!!!

Take a ride through the life and memories of Barney Panofsky, a hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, foulmouthed 65-year old hockey fanatic and television producer, as he reflects on his life's successes and (numerous) gaffes and failures as the final chapters of his own existence come sharply into focus.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Adapted from probably the best Canadian novel ever written, Barney's Version does lose something in the transition from page to screen: voice. Maybe those who haven't read the book won't notice, but the first-person narration is where the novel really shines; without it, the opening exposition (over half an hour, in the film) is really quite dull. Stick with this one, though; the ante ramps up, particularly when we see the alluded-to death of Boogie (played by Scott Speedman). This is the one aspect of the adaptation that's spot-on: the way it's shot, we don't know what or who killed Boogie. The film's ending does strip the magic out of the final realization, though, showing you something that suggests what happened to the body then, (finally in some first-person narration, a voice-over), telling you in an incredibly jarring way what's going on, dumbing-down the entire film, in a way. Good acting helps you get to the end - Dustin Hoffman is especially good as Barney's father, and Paul Giamatti convinces you to root for the title character, despite his despicable tendencies - but the novel may well have been unadaptable. It's not a terrible movie, but it's certainly not without its flaws, either.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

Barney's Version Quotes

Barney Panofsky:
Watch your mouth. I am still your father.
Michael Panofsky:
Yeah, I know. There's nothing I can do about that.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Miriam Grant-Panofsky:
If you can't at least be civil to my friends, don't join us.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Barney, you really do wear your heart on your sleeve. Now put it away. It's disgusting to look at.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Barney Panofsky:
You look like a king, a fucking king.
– Submitted by Albert H (2 years ago)
Izzy Panofsky:
"He had a hard on the size of a can of hair spray"
– Submitted by Jackie M (3 years ago)
Well, I thought it was yours.
– Submitted by Ralph D (3 years ago)

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