News / USA

Life's Disorder Takes Center Stage in Comedy, 'Barney's Version'

Paul Giamatti as Barney
Paul Giamatti as Barney

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

The final novel by acclaimed Canadian author Mordecai Richler is now a motion picture starring American actor Paul Giamatti as the prickly and complex Barney Panofsky, recounting the high and low points of his checkered life. Here's a look at Barney's Version.



There is more to that tender scene with Mr. and Mrs. Barney Panofsky. Yes, he has met the woman of his dreams, but she is not his new bride; and complicating matters - as Barney so often does - they met at his wedding to that new bride.

Life always seems to be playing jokes on Barney, even when he turns to his beloved father - retired police detective Izzy Panofsky - for some paternal wisdom:

"You're talking to someone who knows how hard marriage can be. In the beginning it's all briskets and lah-de-dah and ain't life grand; but soon enough real life starts, right?"

"This is the paternal wisdom I'm going to get?"


Left to Right: Paul Giamatti as Barney and Minnie Driver as 2nd Mrs. “P”
Left to Right: Paul Giamatti as Barney and Minnie Driver as 2nd Mrs. “P”

His work as a successful TV show producer in Montreal is easy compared with trying to figure out how to end his marriage so he can pursue Miriam. Fortunately (for Barney, at least), finding Mrs. P in the arms of his best friend solves the problem.

Abrasive, acerbic, arrogant: you can go through a whole alphabet of adjectives to describe Barney; and Paul Giamatti, who calls the character a "lovable rogue," says he never worried about Barney's antics pushing audiences away.

Paul Giamatti as Barney
Paul Giamatti as Barney

"I am all for pushing people as far as I can," admits Giamatti. "I kind of like to see how far I can push people. Fortunately this had built-in breaks in it so I wasn't going to do that in this because he does have many moments of not being so horrible and hard to take; but I sort of find it interesting to make people uncomfortable and challenge them to like somebody who is not terribly likeable."

In fact, Barney - at least in his own version of his life - can be downright easy to love. He must be to get three women to fall for and marry him. Rosamund Pike plays Miriam, the true love of Barney's life (the one he meets at his wedding to the second Mrs. P); and Pike says her character is wooed by his charm and determination.

Left to Right: Paul Giamatti as Barney and Rosamund Pike as Miriam
Left to Right: Paul Giamatti as Barney and Rosamund Pike as Miriam

"He does woo her, but interestingly, it is not the flowers, the posh lunch or wooing her by taking her to a fancy hotel or flying to New York to meet her; it's kind of the little things," explains Pike. "It's seeing him pass out drunk, but knowing that's because he was nervous. It's coming into the room and seeing five ties laid out and 15 shirts and realizing that this guy was nervous and how much it mattered to him."

Pike prepared for playing Miriam by meeting author Mordecai Richler's widow, Florence, who was the inspiration for the character (and who he really did meet and fall in love with on the day he married his second wife). Barney Panofsky appears in several Richler stories as something of the author's alter ego and Barney's Version, published in 1997, turned out to be his last novel. Richler died at age 70 in 2001, but not before starting to work on the film version with producer Robert Lantos, who continued the project as a tribute to his longtime collaborator and friend.

"The challenge of the whole thing was to honor the book and to preserve the spirit and integrity of it," explains Lantos, "and find a way to translate it into a two-hour visual experience that stands up to the vast majority of the audience who has never read the book and never will."

"I cannot believe that this really happens. It really happens. Just like that. It's amazing, no? And I don't care if it happened on my wedding night or at a funeral or my deathbed. It happened."


Barney's Version is directed by Richard Lewis and the cast features Minnie Driver as the "second Mrs. P." Dustin Hoffman is Barney's father Izzy and Scott Speedman plays his lifelong best friend, Boogie. Screenwriter Michael Konyves adapted the novel into a script and Barney's Version was shot on location in Montreal, Rome and New York City.

** Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for his role in Barney's Version on January 16, 20101

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid