Barney’s Version

1/16/11 Update: MAZEL TOV to Paul Giamatti, winner of the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical.  How great to see a real mensch get his just desserts!

From Jan ’11 Spotlight: The 2011 awards season is heating up! Three actors playing Jewish characters have been nominated for Golden Globes including Paul Giamatti as “Barney Panofsky” in Barney’s Version (based on Mordecai Richler’s last novel). 

I truly enjoyed Barney’s Version. Dustin Hoffman (as Barney’s father “Izzy”) and Rosamund Pike (as Barney’s wife “Miriam”) provide Giamatti with excellent foils, and the plot ripens nicely as Barney ages (although the filmmakers make no attempt to capture the specific medical complications described by Richler in his novel).

Appearing on The Daily Show to promote his new film, Giamatti sent host Jon Stewart flying when he described “Barney Panofsky” as a “rapscallion.”  It’s a perfect word in context, and I discovered a few days later that it’s Barney’s own word (see page 375).  As is my practice, I saw the film first, then I read the source novel, then I saw the film again.  Conclusion: While Barney Panofsky certainly is  a rapscallion, he’s also a deeply felt character who is definitely worth getting to know in both his literary and cinematic incarnations.

Paul Giamatti (left) with Dustin Hoffman
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  1. I have not read the book but the film felt too episodic and there were too many characters most of whom were barely touched and became more like caricatures. However Giamatti is AMAZING and deserves his award!! This is my review of the film:

    • tziviahhuttner
    • January 24, 2011

    Read your review, Movie Geek, & I appreciate the input, but obviously (speaking as a woman now), I clearly disagree with this part: “The main problem, length aside, is that you never quite believe why so many attractive women could fall in love for the sweaty, drunken Barney. And yet, he does get married 3 times and has constant flings everywhere else too.”

    For all his flaws (& who among us is perfect?), Barney is extremely lovable & light years ahead of the other men in the film. (Pity the poor women who fall in love with Boogie!!!) And the part about “constant flings” is simply wrong. More details on all things BARNEY can be found in my interview with director Richard Lewis:

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