Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman in Barney’s Version
> Promising to be Hilarious and Heartbreaking BY J.P. BULLMAN – The highly anticipated Barney’s Version, starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver is slated to open next month. It’s the story about a defamed Quebec television producer, Barney (Giamatti), that promises to be both hilarious and heartbreaking. Barney’s Version is based on the novel of the same name by Quebec writer, Mordecai Richler. In Richler’s version, Barney recounts his life story from a decrepit position. Although still formally active as a television producer, he suffers from ailments of old age, alcoholism, an unhealthy diet and the social stigma of being the suspected murderer of his best friend. As the narrator, Barney begins writing his autobiography at the age of 67 to offer his version of the murder mystery opposite the tale of his accusers. Unfortunately his memory is weakening, making Barney’s version of the story untrustworthy. When the book was published in 1997, the political incorrectness was probably one of Barney’s major attributes, railing against 12
DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM
a society stiffened by the conventions of liberalism, in the same sort of way the comedians like the makers of South Park would execute in the years following. In between rough and tumble hockey memories, Barney recalls stories where he is embattled by feminists, Quebec separatists and his son Saul, a leftist academic whose constant bickering with his father provides amusement throughout. A screenplay of Barney’s Version has been attempted several times in the 13 years since the books publication, once by Richler himself. The dense prose, however, with a loose narrative structure, humorous letter correspondences and footnotes supposedly written by Barney’s son could be very difficult to translate into film. It’s lucky that the film has two fantastic actors seasoned with these sorts of blemished characters; both Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman (who plays Barney's father Izzy) were praised by attendees of September’s Venice International Film Festival, with several reviewers noting that Giamatti’s performance may be Oscar worthy.
Encore Magazine - New York City