Friday, January 21, 2011
Behind every life, there is a story. The life might not be earthshaking, but the story could be fascinating. Based on award-winning Canadian author Mordecai Richler's novel, "Barney's Version" (Canada 2010 | 132 min.) tells a life-long story of Barney, a man who is flawed almost in every front, but never loses his passion for love.
Going back and forth between present time and decades earlier, the film pieces together the life of a heavy drinking, chain smoking, anything but good looking, grumpy Jewish TV producer Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), highlighted by his three failed marriages. Of course, the story unfolds from Barney's perspective, therefore, it's Barney's Version.
Barney's first brief marriage is with Clara (Rachelle Lefevre) when they experiment the lifestyle of hippies in Rome, Italy. After he moves back to Montréal, he gets married with his second wife (Minnie Driver), who is from a wealthy Jewish family. On the wild Jewish wedding night, he notices the gorgeous Miriam (Rosamund Pike), who is a guest attending his wedding. He falls for Miriam immediately, during his own wedding with another woman. He begins his persistent courtship with Mariam. Miraculously, he wins her heart and marries her. After Barney cheats on her, Miriam leaves him, but he never stops longing for her.
Barney is a complex character that is strange and unusual, unlikeable yet unforgettable, unfaithful but romantic, obnoxious whereas pitiful. Paul Giamatti's terrific performance already wins him a Golden Globe Award last week. However, regardless how passionate Barney appears to be when he is pursuing Miriam—and no one doubts his love for Miriam—it is almost impossible to comprehend why Miriam falls in love with Barney.
Despite the long running time filled with higgledy-piggledy happenings, the film provides plenty laughter and entertainment, especially from the Barney's offbeat father Izzy (Dustin Hoffman).
Barney might not be the decent guy by any means, but he certainly lives a larger life, loudly and resolutely.