"Barney's Version," a movie based on Mordecai Richler's award winning novel, is the warm, wise and witty story of the politically incorrect life of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), who meets the love of his life (Rosamund Pike) at his wedding—unfortunately, she isn't the bride. A candid confessional, told from Barney's point of view, the film spans three decades and two continents, taking us through the different acts of his unusual history. The reason that Barney must tell his story now—or, at least his version of it—is that his sworn enemy has just published a tell-all book that dredges up the more compromising chapters of Barney's own past: the many, often murky entrepreneurial schemes that lead to his success; the three marriages, all of them terminated; and, most problematically, the mysterious, as-yet-unsolved disappearance of Barney's best friend, Boogie, a possible murder for which Barney remains the prime suspect. Since his memory sometimes fails him, and because he has the unfortunate habit of getting blind drunk at pivotal moments, Barney leads us on this somewhat unsteady walk down memory lane, not only to explain his life to others, but also to explain it to himself.

Mostly, we learn about Barney by witnessing his three marriages, each representing, like the rings of a circus, different acts of his life. There is his first wife, Clara (Rachelle Lefevre), a flame-haired, flagrantly unfaithful free spirit with whom Barney briefly lives la vie de Boheme in Rome. Then, after returning home to Montreal, Barney marries the Second Mrs. P. (Minnie Driver), a wealthy Jewish Princess who shops and talks incessantly, barely noticing that Barney is never listening. It is at their lavish wedding that Barney meets, and starts pursuing, Miriam (Rosamund Pike), the woman who will become his third wife, the mother of his two children, and the love of his life. Throughout their life together Barney is believed by many—including, at times, himself – to have murdered Boogie (Scott Speedman), the friend whom he both adores and envies, who simply vanishes one day, along with Barney's youth.

In telling us, as he calls it, "the true story of my wasted life," Barney is honest to a fault, owning up to every one of his flaws and failings with a self-lacerating wit that positively dares us not to like him. However, it's impossible not to forgive someone as smart, funny, and self-aware as Barney. Not only does he turn out to be an unrepentant romantic man, as his lifelong devotion to Miriam attests, but he is also capable of all kinds of sneaky acts of gallantry, generosity, and goodness when we—and he—least expect it. Far from wasted, his is a gloriously full life, played out on a grand scale. And, at the center of his story stands an unlikely, but unforgettable, hero—Barney Panofsky.

"Barney's Version" is directed by Richard J. Lewis from a screenplay by Michael Konyves, based on the novel by Mordecai Richler. The movie is produced by Serendipity Point Films in association with Fandango and Lyla Films. The producer is Robert Lantos.

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Genre: Drama
Runtime: 132 mins.
Release Date: January 14, 2011
Tagline: First he got married. Then he got married again. Then he met the love of his life.
Country: Canada
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Production Companies:
Serendipity Point Films
Lyla Films

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