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Barney's Version Reviews

Page 1 of 58

Super Reviewer

May 2, 2014
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.

Super Reviewer

March 17, 2014
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.

Super Reviewer

February 19, 2011
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.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

December 4, 2012
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.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

August 8, 2012
Barney's version is probably my favourite and one of the best biopics of a fictitious character ever. Paul Giamatti plays the main character over a 30 year period, make up aside, he is completely convincing in every age he plays. Dustin Hoffman is also brilliant as his no nonsense ex-cop father. The story is pretty good too, ridiculous but not unbelievable. Funny and heartwarming throughout, a real pleasure that I'm glad I stumbled across. Why this film isn't so well known or wasn't so well received is beyond me. Giamatti won the Golden Globe but wasn't even nominated for the Oscar, how does that make any sense?

Super Reviewer

July 7, 2012
The greatest feat presented in Barney's Version is that Paul Giammatti is able to make a flawed and frankly unsympathetic character seem not only sympathetic, but totally real.

Reality is at the core of this film even though some sequences seem almost farcical. The ability of Giammatti, as Barney, Miriam Pike as the love of his life (wife #3, but who's counting), and Dustin Hoffman as Barney's pop, to make every single line seem revealing yet totally real is what raises the film from the rabble of romance type films. Not that this is strictly a romance film, as it is more of a "life study", spanning the majority of a man's life accenting the warts and foibles.

I'm not going to get into the story itself, as there are more than a few surprises, but will instead limit myself to applauding the pacing and the script itself. Mirroring life, this film has its comic moments but it is in the depth of its relationships, between father and son (something that somehow is not repeated in the next generation), and between two close friends where the writing really stands out. In each case, there are built in expectations between them and the hurt of those failed expectations comes into focus, especially in the extended scene between Barney and his close friend.

There are a million ways in which to present a story, and often there is more than one story in a film. In Barney's Version there is a use of flashback memories, which is something I usually don't care much for, but in this film it totally fits and makes the conclusion all the more poignant. There is an overarching story of a man's life and the circles around that life, but while this is being presented we see Barney - such a well fleshed out character study and a well earned Golden Globe for Giammatti. He has become the actor's actor and I truly believe that only he could have uttered the line "what's the matter honey, didn't I love you enough today" with just the right tone of innocence and heart required at that particular moment.

Super Reviewer

May 8, 2011
A chance at a tour de force performance for Paul Giamatti which he takes and gives a terrific turn. Barney is often foolish and not likable about 3/4 of the time but that doesn't stop Giamatti from making him very real and in a way relatable. Also nice to see the fantastic Rosamund Pike finally get a role worthy of her talent, she also makes the most of it. Actually everyone is fine to bad the life examined isn't a more palatable one.
Josh M

Super Reviewer

February 16, 2012
Barney's Version is an enjoyable and amusing disappointment, particularly for ex-Montrealers and those fans of the Richler book like me. The individual performances are mostly excellent, but the sum of its parts is a big letdown.

I quarrel with director Lewis's throwing out of the non-linear structure of the book for a more banal approach. In the book, Richler brilliantly starts with Barney trying to write a memoir to tell his side of a story before he loses his marbles. The thing he is mainly trying to correct is the perception that he killed his best friend Boogie. In this movie 'version', the events are mostly chronological, (it does jump around a little bit in time) and Boogie (Scott Speedman) quickly dies in the middle and Barney gets Alzheimer's at the end. Hence, there is less interest in finding out the truth. Without that, I'm not even sure what the point of this movie is.

Further, Paul Giamatti, a sensitive and soulful schlep, who gives terrific perfomances in almost all his films, (see my review of Win Win) seems to be unable to hit the right note as this character. Paul does not have the charisma to make us believe that this guy could get three stunningly beautiful women to marry him, and get away with his bad behavior towards them all. In the film he is grumpy, self aborbed and distant, without the redeeming quality of wit. If he is meant to stand in for author Richler, he is neither as charismatic nor as sexy and funny as the man himself. I know, I saw RIchler read numerous times.

Dustin Hoffman gives a delightful performance as Barney's vulgar Borscht belt ex-cop dad, and Rosamunde :Pike is luminous as the love of Barney's life, Miriam, who he loses at the end, after meeting her at a wedding ceremony for his unnamed Jewish Canadian Princess wife (Minnie Driver, passably amusing). Also in the film's favour, the forty year aging process for Giamatti and :Pike, both from an acting and makeup point of view is very effective. And Pike is barely 30!

Also on the plus side, the film is a love letter to Montreal, and it looks great in all its locations. The Roman scenes are nice, too, even though these scenes in the book were set in London. That didn't bother me. Apparently Richler is a huge seller in Italy.

It's a bit like an OK Woody Allen comedy with far fewer laughs. Barney's Version is worth a look for Richler fans, but the movie version of 'The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz' is still the best film 'version' of his work.
Raymond W

Super Reviewer

February 28, 2011
The whole film is filled with impeccable performances but Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike and Dustin Hoffman really stand out. Barney's Version may move a little slow for some, but it's comedy and drama, and insight into modern romance make for a great story by Mordecai Richler, even if it's a little confusing in places and hard to watch.
Stuart B

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2011
At best it's ok. It is not as bad as it's cinema take would make you believe, but likewise it is not as good as some of the review would have you think. It passes a few hours but at no point did I really feel gripped, or even more than mildly interested.
Michael S

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2011
A bold character study, spanning 30 years in the life of Barney Panofsky (Giamatti); a man who seems to wear his imperfections on his sleeve. It's because of his flaws that we the audience can relate to him so well. It's because of his flaws that he is such a completely intriguing character in such a rewarding and accomplished film. Paul Giamatti is brilliant in one of his finest performances. The film; equally brilliant.
Jay H

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2011
Sometimes solemn and somber, sometimes witty and charming, "Barney's Version" is a reflective, thoughtful film about life and love. Paul Giamatti is outstanding in the title role, leading us through the believable, yet fictional, life of Barney Panofsky. The film, however, though wholly watchable, tip-toes around a few story arcs, leaving the viewer confused in some ways. Nevertheless, the film is a solid addition to the biographical film genre.
Fernando Rafael Q

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2011
There's enough material ripe with drama, and even more of it is evidently aimed at getting laughs, but the switch between genres is violent and renders Barney's Version a complete tonal misfire. Besides, the characters in the film are pretty much impossible to empathize with: deeply flawed and with hardly any redeeming qualities, not to mention underdeveloped. The film revolves around a stunning performance by Paul Giamatti, which is aided by extraordinary (and most importantly, convincing) makeup by Adrien Morot and supported by an appealing cast that includes Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman, Scott Speedman, Rachelle Lefevre and Minnie Driver.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

October 25, 2010
"Have I ever given up, when it comes to you?"

The life, loves, and memories of a very flawed man. Giamatti is great as always and it's always nice to see Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike in solid roles, but the movie as a whole was a mixture of very average and very good. Worth seeing once for almost everyone, but probably not twice for me.
Zack B

Super Reviewer

July 13, 2011
[short DVD review] Giamatti slowly unravels an incredible performance, but unfortunately this character study sets up more dominoes than it can knock over, particularly a murder plot framing device we just don't care about. And what happened to Paul Gross's scenes?

Super Reviewer

October 20, 2010
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Scott Speedman, Dustin Hoffman, Jake Hoffman, Mark Addy, Saul Rubinek, Rachelle Lefevre, Bruce Greenwood

Director: Richard J. Lewis

Summary: Paul Giamatti stars as Barney Panofsky, a Jewish Canadian television producer who reflects in flashbacks on three strange decades -- and three wives -- in this adaptation of Mordecai Richler's acclaimed novel. There's Clara (Rachelle Lefevre), a free-spirited proponent of free love; "Mrs. P" (Minnie Driver), a self-centered princess; and Miriam (Rosamund Pike), the right woman who comes along at the wrong time.

My Thoughts: "What a great story-telling movie. The past and present scenes where done so well. I never got confused as the story went on. I really enjoyed how it played out. A great love story of loss, laughter, murder, heart break, and everything else wrapped up in one film. There is so much going on in the film, but it is brilliantly done and it all flows really well. Paul Giamatti, he's a favorite of mine. He can do it all and is amazing in his role. Dustin Hoffman was so much fun as Izzy Panofsky. He was great as Barney's father. Really liked him in the film. All the supporting actor's did a wonderful job in the movie. I absolutely recommend this one to all."

Super Reviewer

July 6, 2011
"For the first time in my life, I am truly in love."

The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky.

Giamatti has always given impressive performances. Since he's one of those actors who doesn't quite fit the Hollywood mold of a star, it's not hard to focus on the performance, rather than the familiar look of a star or someone's identity. Seeing a regular guy allows us to identify with the character, with his story, his emotions; in other words, we care.

The movie details the experiences of Barney throughout three of his marriages, particularly the last one. Wonderfully played by Rosamund Pike, here is the perfect partner for Barney, a rather imperfect human being, who hasn't found his life partner. It's not easy to like him since he's prone to go overboard with his drinking, he loves his cigars, and he can be a bit too honest at times. However, there is something likable about him, and all this becomes obvious to Miriam, a woman who someone manages to see the good in him and manages to bring some peace into his life.

Eventually, the film reaches his moving conclusion, with Barney's flaws threatening to sabotage the relationship between him and Miriam. The last third of the film highlights the strengths and weaknesses in their relationship, and how the outcome is decided by nature. There are some very tender and moving moments in the final scenes of the movie, with both Giamatti and Pike doing extraordinary work. We have seen similar situations in movies before, yet it's the way these actors convey the bond between these two people that makes the film work. When I went in, I expected an amusing mystery/comedy, in the end "Barney's version" was touching look into the lives of people just like us.
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

June 29, 2011
A wonderful, well written film that I found very captivating...even though it was rather lengthy. Paul Giamatti really excells here, and apparently won a Golden Globe for this. I can see why. The rest of the cast was also outstanding.
Emile T

Super Reviewer

November 4, 2010
Watch it for the phenomenal performance from Paul Giamatti and the incredible story that he and his great supporting cast bring to life in this film.
Shawn E

Super Reviewer

March 14, 2011
A good progressive drama with a decent story told in bits and pieces. There is a lot to like about this film even if the story does not come together as strongly as it could. The mix of romance, comedy, and tragedy really help communicate the preciousness of life and all it's little things. Paul Giamatti is absolutely wonderful and brings quality emotion to his complex character. Try not to let this unnoticed film go without watching, it's quite charming.
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