Barney’s Version

Rated 3.0

In theory, Mordecai Richler’s bristly and sardonic novel seems like the perfect Paul Giamatti vehicle: Obstreperous sad-sack rapscallion Barney Panofsky, a wearied second-rate Montreal TV producer reflecting on several fleeting decades’ worth of self-absorption, is a man who once fell in love at first sight, on his second wedding day, with a woman who later became his third former wife (Rosamund Pike). Also, he may have murdered his druggie literary-genius friend (Scott Speedman). But you’ve gotta love him, the big lug. The forward trudge of the film is easier to commend than to enjoy; it’s hard not to blame on screenwriter Michael Konyves and director Richard J. Lewis both having come up through episodic television. Instead of lasting, literary richness, the feelings on offer here have the jaggedness of cut corners, in spite of droll, wistful, ambient Jewish Montreal cool.