Barney’s Version is a 2010 Canadian drama film directed by Richard J. Lewis, based on the novel of the same name by Mordecai Richler. The film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.
From producer Robert Lantos, Barney’s Version is a film based on Mordecai Richler’s prize-winning comic novel with Paul Giamatti in the title role. Filming took place in Montreal, the Laurentians, Rome and New York. Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) is a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life. Barney’s candid confessional spans four decades and two continents, and includes three wives (Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Rachelle Lefevre), one outrageous father (Dustin Hoffman) and a charmingly dissolute best friend (Scott Speedman).
Barry Panofsky is one of the great comic characters of modern literature. Mordecai Richler gave him life as an impulsive, romantic, politically incorrect and fearlessly blunt creature subject to his impulses. And now, Paul Giamatti adds flesh and blood, and a vast emotional range in this immensely enjoyable adaptation directed by Richard J. Lewis.
Shifting seamlessly between the highs and lows of his life in Montreal as an adult philanderer, and his coming of age in seventies Italy, Barney’s Version follows its hero as he seeks solace through marriage and professional success. His first wife, Clara (Rachelle Lefevre), is an unstable free spirit Barney meets through his best friend, the promising but self-destructive novelist, Boogie (Scott Speedman). When his relationship with Clara ends in tragedy, Barney returns to Montreal, establishes himself as a successful television producer running Totally Unnecessary Productions, and marries into society through the good graces and welcoming charms of The Second Mrs. P (Minnie Driver).
But Barney never knows when to leave well enough alone. At his wedding to Mrs P., he meets and falls madly for the true love of his life, Miriam (Rosamund Pike), who is destined to become his third wife. His dad (Dustin Hoffman) gives him a gun as a wedding present and, well, no need to spoil the plot, but when Barney is implicated in Boogie’s mysterious disappearance, the spectre of the past raises its ugly head.
Richler’s acclaimed novel has found its ideal champion in Canadian producer Robert Lantos, who devoted the last twelve years to shaping this film. And in Paul Giamatti –whose Barney is equal parts sour and tender, vicious and vulnerable – the film has its ideal star. The cast also includes Bruce Greenwood, Macha Grenon, Mark Addy, Maury Chaykin, Saul Rubinek, Jake Hoffman, Zack Kifell, Anna Hopkins, Cle Bennett and Harvey Atkin. David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, and Paul Gross all make cameo appearances. Michael Konyves wrote the screenplay and special effects are produced by Modus FX in Montreal.