Although the film Barney’s Version’s a work of art, undisputed so, it’s not for everyone. The long-winded script hurts the movie for the center of the road film goers who like their stories wrapped up in small packages. Having said that, if you miss out on Paul Giamatti’s amazing performance, it would be a crime.
The film centers on Barney Panofsky an average guy who gets to life an extraordinary life. Enamored by his first wife Clara (Rachelle Lefevre), a free spirited woman, Barney gets a taste of her lifestyle in Rome. Years later Barney weds his second wife (Mini Driver) a wealthy woman with whom he thinks he loves, but rebounding becomes more of the actual reason. At the wedding reception he meets Miriam (Rosmund Pike) who he starts to pursue in an attempt to make her his third wife. In the meantime he leans on his father Izzy (Dustin Hoffman) to give him comfort and consolation while living a grand lifestyle with a woman he doesn’t love. When he finally gets Miriam to be his wife they live a long journey together until Barney’s alcohol and jealousy starts to kick in.
The film could have easily been a Lifetime TV movie if it weren’t for the length of the poignant drama. Appealing mostly to woman, although not classified as a chick flick, Giamatti’s acting as the alcoholic, crude jester is surly the best reason to see the film whether male or female. His performance is definitely worthy of the Golden Globe he received at the recent awards ceremony.
The story gets a little too mawkish, over stated and repetitious making me bored at times. An incident between Solange and Barney serves as an unnecessary reveal as if the movie needed it to make it more of a mystery. Too bad the filmmakers couldn’t have cut twenty minutes out of the movie; it would have been at least a grade level better.
The make-up in Barney’s Version should be applauded. Artists age the characters so well I felt that I lived through their whole life adventure. Special kudos to Mini Driver’s youngish look and Pike’s aging. Not to be left out, Hoffman never looked better as a mid-century man.
Barney’s Version is rated R for Language and some sexual content. There are also excessive drinking and a scene of violence.
FINAL ANALYSIS: This film is best left as a novel. (C+)
Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at firstname.lastname@example.org