User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 46 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 46
  2. Negative: 5 out of 46

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  1. Mar 13, 2012
    6
    Barney's Version is not a perfect film, not by a long shot but it's clever enough in its writing and execution to be enjoyable despite the fact it is a film cut up into three separate sections and neither one ever really meshes with the other.
    Regardless of that, the film is a powerhouse in terms of acting performances with both Rosamund Pike and Dustin Hoffman giving career highlight
    performances. However the film belongs to Paul Giamatti as Barney because through his performance you can just about get past the jarring splitting up of the films narrative because the performance is so strong you'd follow it anywhere. That being said the split is incredibly noticeable with each part feeling almost like a different film. The first chapter is dark and twisted with some very black comedy and probably the most involving 30 minutes of the film. The second is lighter with a move towards more sarcastic humour which after a while grates, like Minnie Driver's character. It also includes a murder/accident plot that although important never feels relevant making the middle section of the film the weakest of the three. The final section is emotional, maybe a little too emotional, but it also explores the mundaneness of married life and how Barney has been affected by the people in his life better than the other two combined. With all this in mind it is a film that feels like it was made by three different people trying to say three different things and for that reason it can't be as powerful, moving or involving as it wants or needs to be, leading to an ending that should be poignant and bitter-sweet, but instead is entertaining but never powerful. Expand
  2. Mar 1, 2012
    9
    Barney's Version is an unexpected delight of a film. Paul Giamatti plays Barney Panofsky, an ageing, rich TV executive, looking back on his life. Barney is easily one of the most unlikeable characters in motion picture history. He is snobbish, arrogant, selfish, manipulative, chain-smoking and alcohol dependent - a real scumbag in short, and yet Giamatti somehow makes him compelling as a protagonist. You go on a real journey as Barney considers the highs and lows of his life, and your feelings of hate and contempt for him and his morally bereft actions steadily evolve into pity for him, and finally unquestionable sympathy. It really is the performance of Giamatti's career, and demonstrates his unrivaled excellence as a character actor. The entire supporting cast impress, but none more so than Rosamund Pike playing Barney's long-suffering, but ever-loving third wife Miriam, and Dustin Hoffman as Barney's wise and supportive ex-cop dad Izzy (Hoffman looks like he's having a ball with the role, and never more so than when Izzy educates his son on the real nature of married life). Barney's Version is a really involving, rewarding journey through a character's life, and like real life, it's got laughs, tears, and occasionally both at the same time. Director Richard J. Lewis and writer Michael Konyves have created what is, in essence, a very human viewing experience. The film is proof that no matter what a despicable human being someone is (and Barney really is), you can still feel empathy for them, as feeling sympathy is the natural human response to someone's suffering, no matter what you really think of them. The tragedy of the final chapter in Barney's life is expertly handled by Lewis and Konyves in the film's final act - it's tender, but never soppy, moving, but never in a manipulative way, it's just a well-judged piece of drama. Barney's Version will get a huge range of reactions from you as a viewer, and you'll likely re-evaluate your opinion of Barney on numerous occasions throughout the film. In many ways, he's a terrible person, and is shown to be responsible for a lot of misery in people's lives, but he's also undeniably human, and utterly believable. He makes a pleasantly refreshing change from the utter dullness present in most film characterisation - he may be rather nasty, but there's no denying that Barney is an interesting character! Barney's Version is an incredibly rewarding, compelling and believable human drama that has some nice comic and emotional beats. Incredible as it may seem, you may find yourself rooting for Barney Panofsky, one of the nastiest pieces of work ever committed to screen, by the end. Expand
  3. Dec 31, 2011
    8
    I thoroughly enjoyed this film, a man reflects on his life and the choices both good and bad which leads to his circumstances as his life comes to a close. Excellent acting from the whole cast, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giammati and Rosamund Pike in particular.
  4. Dec 1, 2011
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This movie stinks!

    It's one of those movies with a pretty good cast but you never heard of it so you roll the dice and start watching and by the end you realize that you've wasted 127 minutes of your life.

    Blend together Mr. Hollands Opus, The Notebook, Goodbye Columbus, and The Apprenticeship of Dudey Kravitz and you end up with this un-entertaining hodge podge. The acting is terrible and the plot doesn't really make sense. On top of that, this is one of those movies that covers several decades so the actors wear stupid makeup and wigs that make them older and younger but the effect is unconfusing and at times laughable. Some characters age, others do not, huh? Dustin Hoffman stays about the same throughout, even when he's dead at the end.

    The whole murder subplot makes no sense. At the end they throw in some gratuitous Alzheimer stuff for no apparent reason.

    Giamatti's a fine actor but hot here. Hoffman as Barney's father is ridiculous, he look's younger than his son. It's ridiculous that Miriam leave Barney because of one stupid mistake except that's it's even more preposterous that she would ever be with him in the first place.
    Expand
  5. Jun 18, 2011
    7
    A very enjoyable movie. Its something you would watch on a rainy sunday afternoon. It is not memorable by any means but it has a good start and an excellent ending. Probably because the main character is not an overtly nice guy , it does detract somewhat from the experience; but when should movie making always feature a redeeming character! One to watch for sure.
  6. May 25, 2011
    4
    A good try, but in a lot of parts of the movie I just felt buring, That movie makes me remember the Italian movie style wich I am not a fan, but in general I thiks it was regular
  7. May 13, 2011
    9
    I'm rating this movie 9/10 because as a HUGE Mordecai Richler film, I don't think that anything could have done Barney's Version (in my opinion his greatest work) justice. Yes, it's true, there are many overlooked details and the movie can sometimes feel like they've just condensed a life into an all-too-short movie form, but overall the film is superbly shot, and it's all so authentic. The scenes filmed in Montreal and on lake Memphremagog are exactly as detailed in the book, and are the actual former residences of Richler himself! It's a beautiful story that cannot be told as well in the movie form as in the novel form, but it captures the spirit nonetheless and I would recommend this movie to absolutely anyone. Fantastic job by Giamatti Expand
  8. Mar 18, 2011
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Let's talk about the first wife, Clara(Rachelle Lefevre), the free spirit whom Barney Panofsky(Paul Giamatti) marries in a shotgun wedding during his Roman holiday. Had she lived, a divorce would have surely followed with record-setting expedience, once they reached the North American continent. It's impossible to imagine Clara as a housewife, especially a Canadian one, waiting up nightly for her curmudgeon husband's return from the bar, satiated with booze and hockey. She is, indeed, as Boogie(Scott Speedman) puts it, "a conversation piece", the woman you have good times with, not the kind who'd make a good wife. But Barney knocks her up, so out of chivalrous obligation, he finds himself walking to the Canadian embassy, not with her, mind you, but ahead of her, to the pregnant(and smoking) woman's annoyance. Clearly, this marriage is a disaster in the making, a lark. Her big day is remarkably free of any romance. Barney should be holding her hand. He realizes too late the depth of her feelings for him. Clara has to tell her future husband and his friends to wait up. Even after the woman's suicide(depression brought on by her miscarriage), Barney doesn't love and honor her properly, in memoriam. He never hashes things out with Boogie, who is at least partially responsible for her self-induced passing. On the day of the incident, Barney discovers a mailed dinner invitation from Clara that Boogie had forgotten to pass along. Was he in love with Clara? Was he sabotaging a possible reconciliation? Barney never bothers to find out: not then and not years later when the old friends lock horns in a lakeside tussle after Boogie implies that he slept with Clara. Referring to the past, the recovering drug addict opens up a can of worms, but Barney puts the lid back on. When Barney asks Boogie for a few contrite words, it's not the apology we want the television producer to pursue. The apology he wants from the failed novelist pertains to him being caught in the act with his second wife(Minnie Driver), even though he hardly seems bothered by their betrayal. Had he actually murdered Boogie on the pier(and who says he didn't since Barney is a fallible narrator), you could hardly call it a crime of passion. Barney thinks so lowly of wife number two, she doesn't even have a proper name. Vulgar and conceited, the second wife is given these unflattering characteristics because it's integral to "Barney's Version" that we don't care that the bridegroom becomes an emotional absentee from the outset of their marriage, beginning at the wedding itself. We're not supposed to notice that he's being cruel to her, this wife with no name. She's the bad person, not him. Although her family is loaded, love means more to Barney than money, which to the audience, makes the curmudgeon a man of substance when he pursues Miriam(Rosamund Pike), the third wife, right after he signs the divorce papers. Because Driver models her character after the Jewish princess stereotype, the second wife ends up being unsympathetic to the audience, a caricature of personality tics(all annoying ones), when in fact, she exhibits great character by marrying Barney(whose father is a cop, played by Dustin Hoffman), since daddy's little rich girl is marrying beneath her station. But alas, she gets no credit from the audience for following her heart. Miriam, of course, is the woman that Barney spots at his wedding, and falls head over heels with her. When asked if she follows hockey, Miriam responds, "No, but I read the newspapers," which is probably the moment that Barney is done for. Unlike the first wife, who sleeps with Barney's friends(the stillborn baby was half-black), and the second wife, who is a bit of a blowhard(she keeps going on about her masters degree from McGill), Miriam has no flaws. Only a curmudgeon could f*ck this up. In the company of the perfect woman, we can better see what the second wife had to put up with, and what the first wife had to look forward to. As Barney loses his memory, he loses control of his ability to edit; his memories are no longer selective ones, so we see him, warts and all, in his married life with Miriam. Expand
  9. Mar 13, 2011
    7
    Barney Panofsky is a complex character: obnoxious, unsympathetic, romantic, sensitive and a little bit sweet. Although there are friends and family, most of the narrative revolves around his relationship with his three wives. As Barney, Paul Giamatti makes the film worth watching. He brilliantly examines all sides of this complex character. What's hard is that every scene goes on too long (which makes the movie too long) and Barney keeps repeating his bad behaviors (which makes the movie frustrating). While the performances and direction are strong, Barney's character just isn't appealing. Expand
  10. Mar 11, 2011
    6
    I did not see anything new in this film. In fact, I was rather underwhelmed. I hate scotch so maybe that clouded my opinion. Barney came across to me as a pathetic character not like Hunter S. Thompson. Also, why did the third wife look like she never aged?
  11. Feb 27, 2011
    6
    This movie is like a drawing that was perfect but the artist didn't know where to stop until it was ruined and unrecognizable. The first hour was superb. Witty, hilarious...it reminded me of a serious man. And I kind of had that gut feeling that it was sort of heading in the wrong direction. I actually have never seen a film that started out as an "independent film" and finished as a "hollywood epic." I waited for it to end on about 10 different occasions, but it kept on going. I thought it would be a great film if it was cut in half. The focus of this 2 hr 15 film, I feel was totally lost in the last hour, trying to throw to many subjects into one film. The premise was revealed rather early and I think had they stayed with that it would have been much better. I left the theater thinking "who is this guy anyway?" I know there was a dedication to someone I had never heard of, but I went into the film thinking this was a fictional account. Expand
  12. Feb 6, 2011
    10
    What a wonderful film! A beautiful motion picture. I love Paul Giamatti, I'll see anything with him. He's one the finest actors on the planet. He gives an Oscar deserving performance. The film's beginning/middle/end never drifts. The film is perfectly paced. The cast was perfect for the film. Whoever did the casting got it spot on. Dustin Hoffman & Rosamund Pike are fantastic. Go see this masterpiece, it's worth your 8 bucks. Expand
  13. Jan 22, 2011
    2
    The spine in this relentlessly episodic story is Barney's penchant for booze-soaked bad behavior. If only it were interesting booze-soaked bad behavior. I mean, I'll forgive a bad boy his flaws but Giamatti's got nothing to play except his character's desire to escape the scenes he's in. I had the same problem. If, like me, you're attracted by the talents of Mordecai Richler and Paul Giamatti, prepare yourselves for two hours and twenty minutes of disappointment, paper-thin characters, tedious histrionics and amateurish plot contrivances. Expand
  14. Jan 15, 2011
    9
    So worth the full price of a weekend ticket. I gravitate toward movies that take me from my own life, have a solid beginning/middle/END and especially if they do, with great impact, what their classification of movie genre encompasses; If it's a comedy I want to laugh, HARD. If a horror film, I want to be scared witless, and scream. This movie delivers everything and more of what it promises. Barney is complex and endlessly engaging, his life is symphonic. He's not the devil, he's no angel. He's you and me. I laughed out loud, I cried irrepressible tears, I held my head at the ears with that 'o gosh, no no no, not that', I flushed with anger and sighed resting into intense sweetness. I hope you'll go see it, and hope you are transported. As I was. Expand
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Mar 3, 2011
    67
    The performances are superlative, as is much of the film's Jewish flavor. The ham is barely noticeable.
  2. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Feb 24, 2011
    75
    It's a breezy and charming film in all, well-acted, playful and filled with real joie de vivre.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 18, 2011
    88
    That character flaw makes for some great shock-fueled laughs in Lewis' film -- Giamatti does full-on comic rage as well as anyone.