Film & TV

Mordecai Richler Gets a Downgrade in "Barney's Version"

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. Richler was a gleeful provocateur who wrote in funny, excoriating, entertainingly hectic prose and had passion to burn. Giamatti mugs away gamely as the titular unhero, a Montreal producer of schlock television whom we meet adjusting poorly to geezer status and reflecting, with insufficient Richleresque bile and many artless flashbacks, on his magnificently botched life. Regrets, Barney's had a few, leading with the loss of his adored third wife, Miriam (a coolly intelligent Rosamund Pike), and his ambiguous role in the death of a boozy literary mentor (Scott Speedman). Somnolently paced and emotionally constricted, Barney's Version never finds a rhythm or a theme to call its own. Worse yet, it strips the novel of its rich sense of place and so of Richler's profane love for his beloved, bitterly divided Quebec.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ella Taylor
Contact: Ella Taylor