Barney's Version

2010, Comedy/Drama, 2h 12m

138 Reviews 10,000+ Ratings

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

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Movie Info

Toward the end of his life, Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) looks back on his triumphs and tragedies, beginning with an ill-fated relationship with Clara (Rachelle Lefevre), whom he marries when she becomes pregnant. When that falls apart, he moves back home to Montreal and gets married twice more, finally finding contentment with Miriam (Rosamund Pike), his third wife. Through it all, Barney is sustained by his work in television, raising children and the advice of his father (Dustin Hoffman).

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Critic Reviews for Barney's Version

All Critics (138) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (107) | Rotten (31)

  • 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...

    June 29, 2011
  • The ever-impressive Paul Giamatti (American Splendour, John Adams) shines in this rambling Canadian character study.

    March 31, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    March 23, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The film offers a lovely mix of compassion and humour. We get a sprawling comic tableau, the arc of a full life.

    March 23, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The movie, much like your own life, is best enjoyed when you don't know exactly what happens next.

    March 18, 2011 | Full Review…
  • The performances are superlative, as is much of the film's Jewish flavor. The ham is barely noticeable.

    March 4, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • 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...

    June 29, 2011
  • The ever-impressive Paul Giamatti (American Splendour, John Adams) shines in this rambling Canadian character study.

    March 31, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    March 23, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The film offers a lovely mix of compassion and humour. We get a sprawling comic tableau, the arc of a full life.

    March 23, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Gives Paul Giamatti his most memorable part since Sideways

    January 31, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film never coalesces, and despite the positive bits, the story is simply too long, too rambling, and too obvious to be completely successful.

    July 13, 2020 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Barney's Version

  • May 02, 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 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.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 04, 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.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Oct 04, 2012
    An odd film that seems like a real-life biopic but is actually about a completely ficticious character. The mystery about whether Barney actually killed his best friend is soon forgotten as the film focuses on his personal life and especially his relationship with the love of his life, played by Pike. Giamatti is brilliant in the role although most will find some similarities with his character in 'Sideways'. Pike is also excellent (best screen work I've seen her do) and Hoffman pops up for some comic support as Barney's dad. The mystery returns at the end but it's clear the film doesn't really want to focus on that as by this point we know enough about Barney to realise if he could have done it ot not. As illness starts to take over Barney's life the film starts to take a tragic turn and the scenes between Giamatti and Pike are beautifully acted and very sad. This is a difficult film to describe and just relating the plot won't really give you a true impression of what it's about. It packs an emotional punch towards the end especially but there are a few laughs along the way.
    David S Super Reviewer

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