Saturday, May 21, 2011

Barney's Version (2010)

The story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Makeup

The films I have to see to stay connected to Oscar... :) I'm exagerating a bit, Barney's Version is not one of the year's worst. But I would've probably not have given it 130 minutes of my life. It has its good moments, but it's really uneven throughout, going from bad to fine, from mediocre comedy to sometimes relevant drama.

I don't think the Oscar nomination for makeup is worthy, there were notable mistakes especially is Rosamund's aging makeup. Its other big award recognition was the Golden Globe win (Comedy/Musical) for Giamatti: it seemed like a pretty weak category in the funny department and I'm sure he won more for the dramatic scenes (which is called cheating!) than for the more funny ones which are rather superficial. And he does give a good performance, but boy is that character dislikeable. There's always a problem when I don't give a damn if my lead character lives or dies, is happy or not.

Dustin Hoffman is a scene-stealer, in a small but very effective role. Rosamund has her good moments but nothing terrific, while Minnie brings the comedy to the film. There are some bad casting choices with the grown-up kids, the direction is shaky: never deciding if we're seeing a comedy, a drama, switching too suddenly from one register to another. But there are also a couple of key scenes that do feel powerful: if I'd mention them, I'd spoil the story...

My rating for the film: 5.5/10. It needed a better grip on the story, and I could never really call myself a Paul Giamatti fan, even when I admit his successes.

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