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Demian Rusakov
Demian Rusakov

Barney's Version


The story is written as if it is an autobiography by Barney Panofsky recounting his life in varying detail. Barney's version of events may be viewed as that of two unreliable narrators, in that his recollections are told from varying mental states and then posthumously edited by his son. Underlying the story of Barney's three marriages is the mysterious disappearance of his friend Boogie. Though there is no body, police suspect murder, and Barney himself is tried but acquitted of murder.




Barney's Version


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Barney is remembering all his mistakes, albeit with difficulty. He is a successful producer of schlock television, but he is losing his mind, with the early symptoms of Alzheimer's. Years earlier, during a drunken weekend, he lost his best friend, a dissolute writer called Boogie (Scott Speedman). An anti-Semitic detective (Mark Addy) has now written a book saying he got away with murder. Hence the title: this is Barney's version of events.


The film version stars Paul Giamatti as Barney, Rachelle LeFevre as Clara, Minnie Driver as The Second Mrs. Panofsky, Rosamund Pike as Miriam, and Dustin Hoffman as Barney's father Izzy. The book and film contain examples of:


"I am all for pushing people as far as I can," admits Giamatti. "I kind of like to see how far I can push people. Fortunately this had built-in breaks in it so I wasn't going to do that in this because he does have many moments of not being so horrible and hard to take; but I sort of find it interesting to make people uncomfortable and challenge them to like somebody who is not terribly likeable."In fact, Barney - at least in his own version of his life - can be downright easy to love. He must be to get three women to fall for and marry him. Rosamund Pike plays Miriam, the true love of Barney's life (the one he meets at his wedding to the second Mrs. P); and Pike says her character is wooed by his charm and determination.Left to Right: Paul Giamatti as Barney and Rosamund Pike as Miriam


"He does woo her, but interestingly, it is not the flowers, the posh lunch or wooing her by taking her to a fancy hotel or flying to New York to meet her; it's kind of the little things," explains Pike. "It's seeing him pass out drunk, but knowing that's because he was nervous. It's coming into the room and seeing five ties laid out and 15 shirts and realizing that this guy was nervous and how much it mattered to him."Pike prepared for playing Miriam by meeting author Mordecai Richler's widow, Florence, who was the inspiration for the character (and who he really did meet and fall in love with on the day he married his second wife). Barney Panofsky appears in several Richler stories as something of the author's alter ego and Barney's Version, published in 1997, turned out to be his last novel. Richler died at age 70 in 2001, but not before starting to work on the film version with producer Robert Lantos, who continued the project as a tribute to his longtime collaborator and friend."The challenge of the whole thing was to honor the book and to preserve the spirit and integrity of it," explains Lantos, "and find a way to translate it into a two-hour visual experience that stands up to the vast majority of the audience who has never read the book and never will." "I cannot believe that this really happens. It really happens. Just like that. It's amazing, no? And I don't care if it happened on my wedding night or at a funeral or my deathbed. It happened."Barney's Version is directed by Richard Lewis and the cast features Minnie Driver as the "second Mrs. P." Dustin Hoffman is Barney's father Izzy and Scott Speedman plays his lifelong best friend, Boogie. Screenwriter Michael Konyves adapted the novel into a script and Barney's Version was shot on location in Montreal, Rome and New York City. ** Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for his role in Barney's Version on January 16, 20101 041b061a72


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