Director: Richard J. Lewis
Running time: 129 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 28th January 2011
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 26th November 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This film came out to a lot of critical acclaim. It was obviously positioned for the Oscars, for which it only received a nomination for ‘Best Achievement in Make-up’. Still, I thought I’d give it a look when it landed on my TV screen a few days ago. Well, it’s a pretty good film with a great rambling love story central to the plot, but no, it’s not a great film. It tries very hard to be, with some great performances, but fails to hit the mark (for me anyway). I will give you more of my thoughts after this brief summary.
The story of Barney is mostly told in flashback, as he looks back over his life. The story starts in the mid 1970’s in Rome where Barney and a rather Bohemian group of friends hang out, write, paint and drink themselves insensible. Having made one of his friends pregnant, Barney decides to do the right thing and marry her. This does not end well and Barney is left without a wife or a child (can’t say why; spoilers). Moving back home, his father, retired cop Izzy, introduces him to the daughter of a rich couple. She eventually becomes the second Mrs. P and it is at their wedding that Barney meets the woman of his dreams, Miriam Grant. Despite being married, Barney pursues her although she insists she will have nothing to do with a married man. A weekend at their home by the lake with Barney’s old friend Boogie brings about an opportunity to end the marriage and free him to capture the woman he loves. The film goes on to show the trials and tribulations of what occurs next to Barney. I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be taking me for a swim in the lake.
It’s all beautifully shot with some great tunes thrown in, but the thing central to this film is the performance of Paul Giamatti as Barney Panofsky, he is really great in the role! Also worthy of note is Rosamund Pike; she holds things together beautifully as Miriam. I must also give honourable mentions to; Dustin Hoffman as Izzy Panofsky, Scott Speedman as Boogie, Minnie Driver as The 2nd Mrs. P and Mark Addy as Detective O'Hearne.
Although there are some great performances here, I felt the film didn’t quite hit the mark. There were a couple of reasons for this; one was that Barney, for all his charm, I didn’t find a particularly likable character. He’s far too selfish and doesn’t seem to understand the consequences of his actions sometimes. The second reason is that the film is just too long, it really starts to drag towards the end and, if, as me, you’re finding it hard to sympathise with the main character, it really doesn’t help. Having said that though, it’s still worth a look, if only for Giamatti’s performance, I thought he was quite excellent in this. And so, if only for Giamatti (and Hoffman’s one-liners)… Recommended.
My score: 7.3/10.
IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 7,799 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80/100 (based on 129 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
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2nd Mrs. P's Father: Are you saying you were gratuitously violent with suspected felons?
Izzy: Gratuitously? I always got paid, I ain't gonna work for free.
Barney Panofsky: ...and I'm just gonna keep talking here, 'cause I'm afraid that if I stop there's gonna be a pause or a break and you're gonna say 'It's getting late' or 'I should get going', and I'm not ready for that to happen. I don't want that to happen. Ever.
Miriam: There it was. The pause.
Barney Panofsky: Yeah.
Miriam: I'm still here.
Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/barneysversion/