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DVD Review: Barney’s Version

June 28, 2011

Barney’s Version – An eOne Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: June 28th, 2011

Rated 14A for coarse language and sexual content

Running time: 134 minutes

Richard J. Lewis (dir.)

Michael Konyves (screenplay)

Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler

Pasquale Catalano (music)

Paul Giamatti as Barney Panofsky

Scott Speedman as Boogie

Dustin Hoffman as Izzy Panofsky

Rosamund Pike as Miriam Grant-Panofsky

Minnie Driver as The 2nd Mrs. P.

Rachelle Lefevre as Clara ‘Chambers’ Charnofsky

Our reviews below:


Barney’s Version DVD Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the final novel of acclaimed Canadian author Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version is the story of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti).  After momentarily marrying the pregnant Clara (Rachelle Lefevre) only to have the relationship fall through, he immediately finds an uptight second wife (Minnie Driver).  But on his wedding night, he falls in love with Miriam (Rosamund Pike).  Throughout it all he gets odd parental advice from his father (Dustin Hoffman).  This is Barney’s version of the story, so we see every relationship from his perspective.

Although the first act of Barney’s Version arguably feels a touch rushed and some may find it a little long at 134-minutes, it is carried by uniformly excellent performances and a brilliant turn by Paul Giamatti at its heart.  From the more physical scenes to the small nuances in facial expressions, this is one of Giamatti’s best performances to date.  Dustin Hoffman consistently amuses as his unconventional father.  With several big laughs along the way and an incredibly poignant ending, it is ultimately hard not to be entertained and very moved by the often politically incorrect life story of Barney Panofsky.

The DVD includes interviews with Richler and Giamatti, commentary with director Richard J. Lewis, writer Michael Konyves and producer Robert Lantos, a red carpet featurette and some deleted scenes.


Barney’s Version DVD Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

In Barney’s Version, Paul Giamatti plays the title character, a man in his late-60’s, looking back on his life.  As the story is told through his flashbacks, we see his life from Italy to Montréal, through three marriages, and trying to find out who he is.

Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version is ultimately a sweet, oftentimes funny, and very moving film.  With great performances by all involved – and never dragging at just over 2 hours – I’d highly recommend seeking this one out.


Barney’s Version DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the best-selling novel by Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version tells the story of one man’s life, as told in his own words.  Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) is getting on in years.  Rumours about him abound, so he wants to tell what really went on in his life.  Barney recalls how he met his true love, Miriam (Rosamund Pike) at his wedding to another woman (Minnie Driver).  He recalls his quirky father (Dustin Hoffman) and his best friend Boogie (Scott Speedman).

Barney’s Version is an intelligent, often funny and very moving piece of Canadian cinema.  The acting is quite good with some very sweet and touching moments near the end.  Deserving of all the Genie nominations it got, it is unfortunate that Barney’s Version didn’t win all of the awards it was nominated for.  This is a great Canadian dramedy that is worth seeing.


Barney’s Version DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Barney’s Version is a wonderfully believable, entertaining and ultimately touching tale of one man’s life, Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) as told from his point of view.  Based on Canadian author Mordecai Richler’s final novel, Barney’s Version follows Barney Panofsky from his early thirties to his mid-sixties.  Those three decades cover a lot of living, with three marriages, two children, the suspicious death of a close friend and eventually a change in Barney that he couldn’t have predicted.

Along with a well written story, the responsibility of bringing an interesting character to life lies with the actors.  In Barney’s Version, Giamatti is perfect as the less than perfect title character.  The rest of the cast is also excellent, with Dustin Hoffman particularly fun to watch as Barney’s ex-cop father, Izzy Panofsky.  Rachelle Lefevre as first wife Clara, Minnie Driver as wife number two and Rosamund Pike as Barney’s true love and third wife, Miriam all bring believability to their roles.

Though a little long, this is an entertaining and touching story.  With excellent acting and a distinctly Canadian touch, Barney’s Version is worth checking out on DVD, especially in honour of Canada Day.


Barney’s Version DVD Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

Barney’s Version looks back on the life and three marriages of Montreal TV producer Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti). The first to Clara (Rachelle Lefevre) was a brief mistake in Rome when Barney was young. The [unnamed] 2nd Mrs. P (Minnie Driver) was in effect an arranged marriage into a family that considered itself too good for Barney’s modest roots, particularly his father (Dustin Hoffman), a retired cop with no filters on his salty discourse. At the wedding reception Barney met Miriam (Rosamund Pike), whom he knew he was destined to end up with as wife #3. Though successful, Barney drinks and smokes too much and is as politically incorrect as the book’s author, Mordecai Richler. His flaws finally catch up with him after a happy marriage of over twenty years and two kids (Anna Hopkins and Jake [son of Dustin] Hoffman) as Miriam takes up with her pompous vegan public radio producer Blair (Bruce Greenwood) and Barney finally descends into a state of forgetfulness.

The DVD release of this highly acclaimed film with its brilliant cast and script coincides with the ten-year anniversary of Richler’s death, and includes a brief segment of him reading from and discussing Barney’s Version. Both producer Robert Lantos, a long-time friend and collaborator of Richler, and director Richard J. Lewis had attempted for years to adapt what is arguably his best book to the screen. This was accomplished by Michael Konyves, a young Montreal writer who shared their passion for the book, by replacing extensive narration with clever editing and visual effects (including brilliant makeup over some forty years of Barney’s life), while preserving the essence of the characters and their sharp dialogue. Accompanying the beautiful images is a good selection of tunes from Leonard Cohen and others, and a charming original score played by Italian musicians under composer Pasquale Catalano. As a tribute to Richler, there are numerous cameos of his family and friends, including Canadian film directors and producers.


Consensus: With brilliant leading work by Paul Giamatti and uniformly excellent performances from an ensemble cast, director Richard J. Lewis’ Barney’s Version is an entertaining and ultimately quite moving adaptation of Canadian author Mordecai Richler’s acclaimed final novel.  ***3/4 (Out of 4)

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