Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#92: Barney's Version

Paul Giamatti is one of those actors we can refer to as being very selective about their roles. With some actors it's by chance, with Paul it seems to be a matter of design. This is a man who can don a whole range of characters with ease. In age, appearance or diction, he can change gears effortlessly. As the villain in Shoot 'Em Up, he was menacing and as a divorced husband in Sideways. he could make you feel he was the most wronged man on planet earth. His performance as Barney Panofsky in this 2010 movie, adds another illustrious chapter in his acting career. So much so, you could very well believe that Giamatti goes by the middle name of versatility.

To summarize it in a line, Barney's Version is about a man who has been divorced thrice and his version of how his marriages played out. The three wives are played by Rachel Lefevre ( First two Twilight movies), the fabulous Minnie Driver and the extremely pretty Rosamund Pike. Set in Canada, the movie is an adaptation of a 1997 novel by Canadian author Mordecai Richler and is directed by Richard Lewis. With a completely character-driven plot, that surmises three different marriages, Barney's Version is a delicate masterpiece of emotions. Paul Giamatti's Barney loves his hockey, drinks like the proverbial fish and smokes cigars like his life depends on it. He can fall in love with another woman in an instant on his wedding day and it is this sort of rash impulsiveness with friends and family around him that takes the story forward.

Paul Giamatti dazzles in a performance that can make you laugh and cry and the same time. He does it so himself during a particular scene with such ease, the intensity is infectious. If you're a Sideways fan, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is an extension of his role as Ray Miles. Except if Ray Miles' character was layered and deep, Barney Panofsky is raw and in-your-face. Barney's father Izzy, played by Dustin Hoffman, is the second best thing about the movie. Izzy's love for his son can overlook any transgression. This particular relationship is the one that Barney falls back on in times of crisis and celebration. Dustin Hoffman's cameo is one sweet melody. Rosamund Pike does a commendable job in the company of these heavyweights. There is a consistent thread in her actions and manners from the time we see her till the end. As Barney's third wife, she makes him work really hard to win her affections but also loves him like there's no tomorrow.

Barney's Version is a very carefully put together piece of motion picture. There's an innate sensitivity in the movie that makes it go down as smooth as the finest 12-year old from the Isle of Jura. This is the kind of movie that once you get into a hall, it can make you forget everything else around you. So go ahead, rush to your nearest box-office and partake in Barney's life. Watch it without a care in the world, for that's how Barney would've wished it.

Rating: 7.6/10