Starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, and Rosamund Pike
Directed by Richard J. Lewis
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Appropriate for ages 17+
The biggest shock of the Golden Globes wasn’t the insulting remarks by host Ricky Gervais, but rather the moment when Paul Giamatti won the Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. I don’t consider it a shock because he didn’t deserve it, but rather because this little film has gone completely unnoticed and this was the only nomination Giamatti even received for the film. So did he deserve it? Absolutely. This was easily one of the year’s greatest performances, and worthy of much more praise than it is receiving.
Barney’s Version follows Giamatti as Barney, an uber-blunt soap producer whose life’s journey is captured in two hours. From his first wife to his second and onto the true love of his life, Barney, as a character, seems too over-the-top, but yet his story is so interesting that you can’t help but sit back and enjoy the ride.
Giving his best performance in perhaps over twenty years is Dustin Hoffman, who masterfully plays Barney’s father. I find it even more sad that Hoffman was left off of the ballots this year for this stellar performance that is both touching and hilarious. The rest of the cast, and especially Rosamund Pike as Barney’s third wife and Minnie Driver as his second, turn in impressive performances as well.
While the acting here is certainly top notch, the screenplay by B-movie writer Michael Konyves allows for such tremendous performances to take place. The rest of the production is strong also including the Oscar-nominated make-up job by Adrien Morot who does an impressive job of aging Giamatti and Pike into their senior years.
I believe that the chief reason this film is getting overlooked is that while the cast is huge and it is highly enjoyable, it is still considered an indie with a limited audience. There could have been some huge buzz built up on this film and it might have had a nice box office return as well if someone at Sony Pictures Classics would have had faith in it as a potential earner. But regardless of how much it earns, the movie comes across as a real gem and a very entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. A