Title: Barney’s Version
Released: 23rd May 2011
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Minnie Driver, Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike
Director: Richard J. Lewis
Barney’s Version is a beautifully observed intelligent film examining the life of Barney Panofsky played by Paul Giamatti. It’s a story that looks at Barney over three decades of his life using flashbacks to show us his younger days.
As a person Barney can be kind and caring and romantic but he can also be unexpectedly single-minded, jealous and cruel such as when he leaves the reception of his second wedding to chase another girl. Barney’s Version is a poignant and honest look at life with all its highs and lows, covering everything from love to hate and birth to death. It shows how people can get things right but also how they can get things very, very wrong.
Giamatti is an actor that I could watch all day, every day in any sort of film. And this film is very much his own – with him appearing in what must have been virtually every scene. Giamatti has a wonderful personality. He can be charming even when shouting or angry and he can play widely varying roles equally brilliantly, picking up on subtle nuances that other actors might well have missed. He is a fantastic character actor and whilst he is not always the lead character he is invariably the best thing about any film that he is in and that’s not to say that many, if any, of the films that he appears in are anything other than good, enjoyable and well written, well directed films.
Bonus features are a bit thin on the ground to say the least with just a special featurette on the making of the film, it’s reasonable but I think that fans of the film will expect more.
Barney’s Version is expertly directed by Richard J. Lewis who has clearly given Giamatti and the rest of his cast the autonomy to do their own thing resulting in a very organic, real and honest film with exceptional performances.
Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike appear in turn as Barney’s three wives and Dustin Hoffman appears as Barney’s father. Pike stands out as one of the best supporting actors here but performances are very good across the board.
Despite not being quite what I had expected, maybe even hoped for, I still think that Barney’s Version is a must see film. It is a top rate film and although it’s not quite perfect, it certainly flirts with brilliance on several occasions and is well worth your consideration.