Barney's Version Reviews
But the filmmakers have been, if anything, too dutiful, too careful, and the movie that results from their conscientious, devoted labor illustrates the terrible, paradoxical trap into which well-intentioned literary adaptations so often fall.
Barney's Version misses every opportunity for raucous picaresque fun that the book throws its way, while squandering a wealth of transatlantic performing talent led by Paul Giamatti.
Paul Giamatti can do spunky (Cinderella Man) and stately (John Adams), but he's at his best turning potentially loathsome men into sympathetic characters that command your attention.
Barney's Version could use some editing and shaping, to be sure, but its core characters -- and core performances -- are sharp and clear even against its fuzzy, unfocused plot.
I wish I responded to this shrewdly acted, rather dutiful picture the way I did to the tumultuous Richler adaptation I saw and loved as a 13-year-old, "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," starring a vibrant young Richard Dreyfuss.
That rumpled grumpus Paul Giamatti seizes the title role in Barney's Version, summoning irresistibility and irritability to create a character as endearing as he is galling.