Sunday, 30 January 2011

REVIEW: Barney's Version

Paul Giamatti stars in this strange drama/comedy about Barney, a TV producer who has had a string of ladies and booze and also a hint of murder ...

This was totally not the film I thought it would be. From the cover it looks like a funny, 'indie', happy film about a charming, charismatic man but yet it couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, "Barney's Version" was a melancholy, sad, tear-jerker about a man who makes a lot of mistakes and he might seem like a miserable, old, sleazy git but in essence he's a victim and by the end, you seem to completely sympathise with him.

We are introduced to Barney as an old man making prank phone calls, as a bitter, twisted, lonely specimen who is accused of murder by that guy from the Tesco adverts. We soon jump back in time and see Barney's first wife - the bohemian, messed up Rachelle Lefevre who is completely self-obsessed but when it's over, Barney is ridden with guilt and, once his career starts picking up he runs into Minnie Driver. Driver is a self-righteous, rich, Daddy's girl and Barney marries her not out of love, but out of the need to succeed. As his father played by Dustin Hoffman states, he'd be a fool not to marry her. Hoffman's role as the single father, a man who also has his own demons, is incredible and should have picked up an Oscar nomination - simple, effective and without any acting flab. Barney's love for another woman during his marriage might seem perverse and wrong in the eyes of society, but once you scratch away at the surface, you see he is truly a romantic and feels that Mirium (Rosamund Pike) is the one he should be with. It's like the passionate scene at the end of a rom-com, but more realistic. All the while, he's being accused of killing his best friend, whom he misses like mad and his drinking is getting worse.

After getting shown up by friendly neighbour Blair, Mirium leaves to take a break and spends it with Blair - a man with morals, integrity and quite the looker. Unfortunately, Mirium leaves him for Blair - it's not paranoia when they really are after you. The rest I really can't say because it would ruin the film, but you get an insight into the man that you'd love to hate. "Barney's Version" was marketed in completely the wrong way, it's a tale where if you saw him through anyone else's eyes, he would look like a prick but instead you see the method in the madness, you see his love of his father and fear of being alone. You see how he has been mistreated by women, that his peers are more successful and better looking, that he can only gain confidence when he drinks, the guilt over his previous relationships and that sometimes that grumpy, bitter old man might not have been born that way but deep down, he's a nice guy really.

Jumping in and out of different time periods proves how incredible the make-up is, it looks completely realistic and is much more stunning than the millions spent on Benjamin Button for instance. The acting was incredible and Giamatti again proves that he has some of the best acting chops in the business. I couldn't help but watch the film and feel myself drawn towards Barney's character, even when he's being a dick you know where it's coming from and you sympathise with him and it proves that nothing is black and white, sometimes you need to know the whole story - as unflattering, honest and horrible as it might be, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, but I did find the end quite emotional and even though it was handled right, I felt it was a slightly unnecessary way to heighten the emotion but then, it became about a man losing power, that by taking away his superficial evil, you saw that behind it all he's just a man that wanted to love and to be loved. I challenge anyone not to get emotional by watching Barney's slow break down into oblivion and not be affected by a character that was perfectly imperfect.

Rating: 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment