Barney’s Version

Barney’s Version, directed by Richard J. Lewis, with a screenplay by Michael Konyves, based on a novel by Mordecai Richler, is essentially the life story of Barney Ponofsky (Paul Giamatti). His first marriage, to an emotionally unstable actress, Clara (Rachelle Lefevre) ends tragically. He then marries another woman (Minnie Driver). At the wedding reception, Barney gets drunk and sees Miriam (Rosamund Pike). He immediately falls in love with her and begins pursuing her aggressively. Eventually, he is able to get divorced and marry Miriam. They have children. When their children are grown, they drift apart. Miriam divorces Barney and marries another man. The film turns sentimental at the end when Barney develops Alzheimer’s disease.

I found Barney’s Version amusing, but there were things in it that I found unbelievable. First of all, I simply didn’t believe that an intelligent woman like Miriam would fall for a dorky character like Barney (who isn’t even good-looking), especially since he makes a complete ass out of himself at their first meeting. And he makes an ass out of himself at their second meeting as well. Yeah, this is another movie about a woman who falls for a guy who is a jerk. If all one had to go by were movies, one would think that the way to win a woman’s heart is annoy the hell out of her while humiliating oneself.

Also, when one of Barney’s friends disappears, a police detective becomes convinced that Barney murdered him. Now when the police want to pin a crime on someone, they can do so easily. Yet the murder accusation is never more than a passing inconvenience for Barney. Again, I just didn’t buy it.

I would have enjoyed this film more if it had been more plausible and less sentimental.

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