Barney’s Version is a beautiful story of life, love, and loss told masterfully through the performances of its cast, its clever adaptation by its writer and its wonderful direction. It works on just about every note and never allows itself to tire in its efforts.
The film chronicles the life of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), a television producer whose romantic life is filled with twists and turns and whose family life is crippled by his and his father’s natural proclivities.
Paul Giamatti gives a truly stunning performance here as an ever-aging yet never maturing man who wants nothing more out of life than to be with the woman he loves. His passion resonates throughout, saving the film from what could have been an admittedly familiar trek. Dustin Hoffman as Barney’s father Izzy steals the show every time he’s on screen as a more outlandish and even more outspoken version of our main character. What I loved most of all though was seeing Mark Addy, a favorite of mine, as Detective O’Hearne, a gruff cop out to prove Barney as the intentional murderer of Barney’s best friend Boogie (Scott Speedman). He’s always great but I’ve never seen him in a role quite like this and he pulls it off deftly.
Back in February this film was nominated for an Academy Award for its makeup and it couldn’t have been a more deserved nomination. Throughout the film you watch as each character gradually grows older, becoming slightly more decrepit and yet at the same time more erudite. But with such great performances and such a unique telling of its story it’s a shame that this is the only recognition the film received from the Academy. We have ten possible nominees for Best Picture now and yet somehow this was avoided in favor of The Kids Are All Right or Winter’s Bone. It’s a true shame.