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4.2 out of 5 stars
44
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 5 June 2017
At turns amusing and poignant, this is a skillful adaptation of the novel which manages to portray the self-destructive and like-able character that is Barney.
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on 23 October 2015
Beautiful and poignant. I smiled and cried.
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on 22 January 2015
DVD arrived in great condition and in good time. We loved this film. Excellent.
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on 23 March 2016
One of the most under rated fantastic movie I have seen. Sent in great condition but I am wearing it out. Fast post.
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on 28 July 2011
This will not be to everyone's taste - it's not a blockbuster like the Adjustment Bureau. But it does not matter - what it does, it does beautifully on its own terms. It captures what few films can - a story of a life that resonates on so many levels. Is it a story about love - and following it wherever it leads because that is the most important thing for all of us, so hard to find and so easy to lose. Is it about how hard it is to know anyone else - and all the jumbles and misunderstandings that come from that - the muddles that make and break human lives. Is it about living, really living and dieing too and being able to count your friends on one hand. Maybe alittle of all three. The performances are extraordinary; maybe he isn'y so liekable - he's not a Tom Cruise cut out. But he's real, and you do care - and it makes you think about how precious life and love are - and we must not any of us waste a minute. If the film catches you at the right time it will make a difference, and, if not, it's one to store for later, because its time will surely come. Very special.
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Sounding not unlike a child's software program - "Barney's Version" is a terrible name for a film and nearly put me off renting this 'journey' movie - I'm glad it didn't.

Produced by Robert Lantos and Directed by Richard Lewis, the screenplay by Michael Konyves is adapted from Mordecai Richler's 1997 book of the same name. Across 30 eventful years, it tells the story of Barney Panofsky - a Monte Cristo smoking, whiskey guzzling chubby man living in Montreal. Barney is the TV Producing equivalent of "Gregory House" - irascible and loveable at the same time. Like his Dad Izzy Panofsky (a scene-stealing Dustin Hoffman) Barney tells it as it is - loves women impulsively - is headstrong in everything he does but has his heart in the right place. But he has a fatal flaw. It isn't that Barney is deliberately cruel or mean, he just keeps on making terrible mistakes over and over again (most of which are of his own making) and learns rather painfully as the years pass and happiness fades that the enemy is not others but 'himself'.

It begins in Rome in 1974 when we're introduced to his motley crew of dead-beat friends - there's Thomas Trabacchi as Leo Fasoli - an Italian artistic genius who has yet to find an appreciative audience, a black friend who does a terrible deed on Barney (he later forgives this) and his best-friend - Boogie. Young, cocky, handsome and fancy-free - Boogie is a full-on babe magnet (played beautifully by Scott Speedman) who can't seem to finish his brilliant first novel as he systematically hoovers up every narcotic he can get his sweaty hands on. You sense Barney admires his balls and vicariously lives out his fantasies through Bookie's wanton bohemian lifestyle - but as life and the years go on - Bookie's drug addiction and stupid waste of a God-given talent stop being funny and even lead to a drunken catastrophe by a lake house.

We are then introducing to Barney's three women - Clara, Bonnie and Miriam. Each of the actresses get real meat to work with and you can really sense they are relishing good parts in a good film. 1st up is Rachelle LeFevre playing Clara Chambers - a family dysfunctional who is beautiful but bordering on mental illness at every moment. Her performance is short but so astutely done. Barney then meets the equally gorgeous Miriam - a well-connected Jewish lady who can talk to beat the band (has a 'Master's Degree') - dryly played by Minnie Driver to maximum effect. But then his eyes meet with the real deal - Miriam - played by the ethereally beautiful British actress Rosamund Pike. Barney is lost from the moment he sees her and pursues Miriam with the relentlessness of a Tomahawk missile. Their relationship's up and downs make up the bulk of the movie and Pike is fabulous in the part. More top moments are provided by the rest of the cast...

Hoffman gets some great dialogue which he delivers in that soft understated way of his - regaling a table of elderly po-faced ladies at Barney's 2nd wedding about his cop-on-the-beat past he tells them "...he came at me with a hard-on the size of a can of hairspray..." Or when he's giving his son ludicrously inept parental advice about his passionless marriage to Bonnie "...you're married to a well-bred woman who is loaded, makes a nice Flaky Kugel and has a beautiful rack - many successful marriages have been built on far less..."

Nice supporting roles also go Kate Hopkins and Jake Hoffman who play Kate and Michael (Miriam and Barney's grown-up children) - Jake Hoffman showing more than a passing vocal and visual resemblance to his famous Dad - and glimpses of his acting chops. Bruce Greenwood is Blair - a handsome vegan who tempts Miriam both mentally and spiritually in the later stages of her rocky marriage to Barney - while Macha Grenon is superb as Solange - an aging TV star in the 30th season of Barney's daytime soap "Malley Of The North" - a woman who constantly harks back to her looks in the past (her clinging neediness is both protected and derided by Barney in equal measure). England's Mark Addy is excellent as Detective Sean O'Hearne - a bull-headed cop who is convinced that Barney has literally gotten away with murdering one his friends and has published a book to that effect called "With Friends Like These" (the mystery is brilliantly resolved at the end of the movie). There's even a great cameo by Saul Rubinek as Clara's Jewish father who tries to guilt away Clara's self-destructive past - but not in a way that shows compassion - but embarrassment for what it brought to their family (Barney makes short shift of him).

But the film belongs to Giamatti - who gives his bumbling motormouth of a creation a beating heart - you laugh at Barney's life-grabbing impulsiveness (a particularly nice scene where he chases after Miriam in a train) up to his heart-breaking remorse at doing what he said he would never do to Miriam (crying into her chest on the side of the bed). With the aid of wigs and make-up, Giamatti flits from one time period to the next - and in each his character is wholly believable. In rolls on to 2010 where Barney is now balding and forgetting where he parked his car - but gets one final meet with his beloved Miriam. They talk openly and honestly and despite differences and irreparable harm - express their true feelings (title above). Giamatti is magnificent in the role and fully deserved of his Golden Globes Award for Best Actor.

To sum up - while it's a couple of shades short of being a masterpiece - "Barney's Version" is that rarity - a really good film that you've neither seen nor heard of - a little filmic gem that deserves a viewing and will reward you for doing so.

Put it high on your rental list.
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on 10 December 2015
Paul Giamatti plays Barney an unlikeable fellow made likeable because Paul Giamatti plays him. He is a man who is borderline of needing help, but manages to make it through life without it. He is his own worst enemy. Barney gets married to Minnie Driver, a woman who has wealth and class. She wants to be the perfect wife, but Paul won't let her. Why? Because he is in love with a different woman, Miriam (Rosamund Pike) who he met briefly at his wedding reception. While most men would get over it and move on, Barney does not. The inanity of the situation is what makes the story mildly humorous, but lacks full comedy credentials.

The story might be considered a heart warming love story if not for the situation which leads one not to feel for Barney or for Miriam who agrees to the nonsense. The story kept me entertained, but only because of the antics of Barney and whatever gems he might say.

F-bomb, sex, no nudity.
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on 26 July 2013
Paul Giamatti plays Barney, an unlikeable fellow made likeable because Paul Giamatti plays him. He is a man who is borderline of needing help, but manages to make it through life without it. He is his own worst enemy. Barney gets married to Minnie Driver, a woman who has wealth and class. She wants to be the perfect wife, but Paul won't let her. Why? Because he is in love with a different woman, Miriam (Rosamund Pike) who he met briefly at his wedding reception. While most men would get over it and move on, Barney does not. The inanity of the situation is what makes the story mildly humorous, but lacks full comedy credentials.

The story might be considered a heart warming love story if not for the situation which leads one not to feel for Barney or for Miriam who agrees to the nonsense. The story kept me entertained, but only because of the antics of Barney and whatever gems he might say.

F-bomb, sex, no nudity.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 February 2015
I regard Paul Giamatti (star of this 2010 Canadian production, directed by Richard J Lewis) as one of the most outstanding actors to have emerged from Hollywood over the last decade or so. It’s particularly refreshing to see someone with Giamatti’s 'unglamorous’ looks (often a limiting factor, in terms of landing leading roles) being given 'star billing’ – even if the actor has (to some extent) been typecast into what are 'success-limited’ (or 'loser’, if you prefer), but ‘character-focused’, roles. Barney’s Version actually gives Giamatti his most expansive, near-epic, acting role (certainly that I’ve seen, anyway) as it charts the life, loves and career of the impulsive, un-PC, Jewish, ice hockey-obsessed and hopelessly romantic, Barney Panofsky. Giamatti’s character here bears more than a passing resemblance to his Miles in (the superior) Sideways – more overblown and less tactful, certainly, but still a complex, confused man, a sucker for romance and ‘suffering’ the influence of anarchic friends.

Running to 130 minutes, Lewis does a generally impressive job in maintaining the film’s pace and level of engagement, with plenty of funny moments (normally delivered by the acerbic and cynical Barney) as our titular 'hero’ moves from an 'artistic, bohemian’ life in Rome to a job back home in Canada in TV production (skilfully told in flashback). Along the way, in addition to Giamatti, there are impressive turns from Rosamund Pike as Miriam, the object of Barney’s persistent romantic obsession, Dustin Hoffman as Barney’s straight-talking, ex-cop, father, Izzy, Minnie Driver, as Barney’s wacky, 'little rich girl’ 2nd wife, and from Harvey Atkin as Barney’s 2nd father-in-law. Lewis and screenwriter Michael Konyves make plenty of perceptive observations around (predominantly) male irresponsibility, deception and the fragility of human relationships, as well as the dumbing down and pretence of media stardom, in connection with Barney’s TV producer role.

In the end, though, I return to Giamatti’s performance – there are many moments of great pathos here, whether Barney is confronting fathers-in-law or (particularly) in the film’s powerful depiction of Barney 'growing old’, and Giamatti is one of the finest deliverers of this human quality (just about steering clear of mawkishness). My rating for the film comprises at least one star simply for Giamatti.
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on 17 April 2012
I didn't think such films were being made any more. A broad sweeping, personal and ultimately very watchable portrait of a man's life in all it's triumph and tragedy, taking place over a number of decades. It's full of humour, humanity, tenderness, conflict and love with some fine acting including a very memorable and enjoyable performance from Dustin Hoffman.

I knew nothing of it when i started watching and didn't know what to expect, maybe a one man 'Sideways' of sorts. But this is something grander and more ambitious in the fact it covers a lot of ground over many years and still finds time to explore and express plenty of depth and character. It's hard to do this kind of film well but it achieves it's aims comfortably with grace and spark.

Thank god they still make films for adults.
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