1 February 2011
BARNEY'S VERSION- Review
Rest assured, my memory of the film is lucid enough that I can review it. This is basically the life story of Barney Panofsky and the loves of his life from the 1970s to the present. Across this span of four decades, he is married twice before meeting his true love, Miriam, at his second wedding reception and deciding to pursue her affections. In amongst all of this, he is also accused of murder and annoyed by the ins and outs of his successful TV production company, Totally Unnecessary Productions.
I'm not going to sink to making the Totally Unnecessary Production gag, mostly because there's actually good in here. But like the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker, the bad experience of watching it is what rises to the surface more than anything else for me. You may be inclined to disagree, seeing as how the film has a healthy 85% Certified Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Why should you believe me, the guy who won't make the relevant pun but resorts to a Star Wars reference, of all things?
Barney's first wife is so disparate from the plot that she disappears after the first 15 minutes, and it's particularly pointless when you see the way that her exit is glossed over for most of the rest of the film. Similarly, the murder accusation plotline goes nowhere, only very occasionally bobbing in and out of sight to remind you that it's there, and that there's some kind of narrative drive to this thing. To some extent, it plays with the popular device of the unreliable narrator, but become more like the bloody long-winded narrator. It's not enough that the film spans four decades- stuff should actually be happening. When one of the only interesting factoids I can tell you about the film is that Atom Egoyan appears in a very minor role, it has to be said that in all honesty, nothing is happening here.
The only thing that stimulated me was wondering quite why Barney was so damn attractive to Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike. For her part, Pike is as excellent as always, and really sells Miriam as Barney's soulmate despite the way he mistreats all of the women in his life. Likewise, Paul Giamatti as good as you can be with such an unengaging character, and for how much work he put in, his Golden Globe win for this role was well deserved. There's nothing actually wrong with the cast, actually- even Dustin Hoffman, who went some way towards getting me to forgive him for succumbing to the paycheck for Little Fockers as Barney's father, a policeman with eccentric views on the limits of brutality.
Barney's Version is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Barney's Version, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.