Barney Panofsky (played by Paul Giamatti) is reflecting on his life and we view this from his perspective. He has always been a selfish, chain-smoking, hard-drinking hockey fan – and he looks it – but he’s had some great relationships too. He reflects on his successes and failures through a sequence of memories … from his youth spent in Rome in the 1970’s with his best friend Boogie (by Scott Speedman) where he meets and marries his first wife. He returns to Montreal and finds success in television, where he also meets his second wife (by Minnie Driver). He then becomes utterly infatuated with the love of his life Miriam (by Rosamund Pike) with whom he has a family and finds the most happiness.. Barney’s life is punctuated by failures and terrible down times. His father, Izzy Panofsky (by Dustin Hoffman) is a retired detective who has been around through it all. He has a different personality type to Barney and he provides a breath of fresh air in Barney’s frustrating life. Although he has had some wonderful relationships with women (I’m not sure what they see in him really …), Barney is not really a very nice man and in the later years of his life he comes to realise this through the eyes of his children and Miriam.
Paul Giamatti is great in this role – Barney is so desperately lonely and disappointed in how his life has gone. Rosamund Pike is beautifully serene and a wonderful balance to him, whereas Dustin Hoffman’s Izzy is truly special – he is marvellous. His is the most entertaining character and in my view the best performance. Overall, I’m not quite sure what to make of it – but it is a well made and interesting movie.
The movie is an adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s 1997 novel “Barney’s Version” and the director is Richard J. Lewis.