Barney's Version (film)

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Barney's Version
Film poster
Directed byRichard J. Lewis
Screenplay byMichael Konyves
Based onBarney's Version
by Mordecai Richler
Produced byRobert Lantos
CinematographyGuy Dufaux
Edited bySusan Shipton
Music byPasquale Catalano
Distributed byEntertainment One[1]
Release dates
  • September 10, 2010 (2010-09-10) (Venice)
  • December 24, 2010 (2010-12-24) (Canada)
Running time
134 minutes
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$12.1 million[3]

Barney's Version is a 2010 Canadian comedy-drama film directed by Richard J. Lewis, based on the novel of the same name by Mordecai Richler.[4] The film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.[5][6]


Barney Panofsky is living with his best friend Boogie in Rome. He marries the mentally disturbed and unfaithful Clara Charnofsky after she tells him she is pregnant with his child. He later finds out the child – delivered stillborn – is not his, and he demands they separate. She commits suicide, and a devastated Barney decides to return home to Montreal.

Barney soon meets the woman who becomes his second wife, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family. At their lavish wedding, Barney meets Miriam Grant and immediately falls in love. He tells her his feelings for her that night but she rejects him.

Despite his marriage, Barney sends Miriam flowers and gifts. He later picks up Boogie, who comes to detox, for a few days at Barney's lake house. He later finds Boogie in bed with his wife. At first overjoyed that he has an excuse to divorce her and pursue Miriam, he later questions Boogie's integrity. The drunk men argue, and Barney shoots two bullets from his gun to dissuade Boogie from snorkling, one into the air, before he trips and passes out on the dock, and Boogie falls backwards into the lake.

When Barney awakens, Boogie is missing. A detective tries to beat a confession out of him until his father, Izzy, intervenes. Barney continues to believe that Boogie ran away, and throughout the movie waits for him to reappear.

With his divorce final, Barney asks Miriam out on a date. He travels to New York City to meet her and finally begin a relationship. They marry and have two children, as Barney gets a job producing a television series. Izzy later dies in a brothel, causing Barney to laugh and cry and call his father a "King". Barney and Miriam live happily until, on another vacation to the lake house, Barney meets Blair, who works in radio, Miriam's old line of work. There is an immediate platonic connection between Blair and Miriam, much to Barney's noticeable consternation.

After Barney's and Miriam's son, Michael, leaves home, Miriam informs Barney of her intention to return to work. He attempts to dissuade her but she persists and secures employment, thanks to support from Blair. Miriam begins work at a radio station, but Barney misses her first on-air interview – because he "was drunk and watching the hockey game, like has happened a thousand times before" – and is rude and dismissive to Miriam's colleagues.

Miriam remains steadfastly faithful to him, but eventually his picaresque behaviour results in her taking a week-long visit to Michael's place in New York. While she is absent, Barney gets drunk at a bar and ends up sleeping with a former actress on his show. He tells Miriam about his infidelity and they divorce. She later marries Blair.

Barney, who displayed small signs of a deteriorating memory earlier in the film, forgetting where he had left his car on two occasions, now begins to show signs of an acute but unspecified memory loss. After Boogie's body is discovered near the lake house from an apparent sky diving accident, Miriam meets Barney for lunch in a favourite restaurant and offers to help as a friend.

When Miriam returns from the bathroom, Barney has paid for the meal but forgotten his wallet. She follows him and, by the time she catches up to him, he has forgotten that they were divorced. He speaks to her as if it was years earlier, assuming that they're still married and that their children are quite young.

Barney's condition worsens until his death. While his children are helping settle some of his affairs at the lake house, they observe a "water bomber" plane scoop up water from the lake and dump it on a fire on the mountainside, showing the children what could have happened to Boogie, referencing an urban myth.[7] The final scene shows Miriam visiting Barney's grave, leaving roses at a tombstone bearing both of their names.


There were also cameos by Canadian directors Atom Egoyan (early director of Barney's soap opera Constable O'Malley of the North), David Cronenberg (later director of Barney's soap), Paul Gross (star in Barney's soap), Denys Arcand (Jean, the maître d' at both of Barney and Miriam's luncheons beside the duck pond at Montreal's Ritz-Carlton), and Ted Kotcheff (train conductor).


After being in development for 12 years, the film was released in September 2010 with Paul Giamatti in the title role. It was directed by Richard J. Lewis and produced by Robert Lantos from a screenplay by Michael Konyves. Filming took place in Montreal, Lake Memphremagog, Rome and New York. The visual effects were produced by Modus FX in Montreal.


The film grossed $472,892 in Canada over its first few weeks.[8] As of April 17, 2011, the film had grossed $4.3 million in the United States and a total of $8 million worldwide. Most of the worldwide box office was in Italy.[2]


As of June 2020, the film holds a 78% approval rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 136 reviews with an average rating 6.65 out of 10. The website's critics consensus reads: "With a magnificent performance by Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version offers much comedy and insight to the complexities of modern romance."[9] It also has a score of 67 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards[11] February 27, 2011 Best Makeup Adrien Morot Nominated
Genie Awards[12] March 10, 2011 Best Picture Nominated
Best Actor Paul Giamatti Won
Best Actress Rosamund Pike Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Dustin Hoffman Won
Best Supporting Actress Minnie Driver Won
Best Director Richard J. Lewis Nominated
Art Direction/Production Design Claude Paré and Élise de Blois Won
Costume Design Nicoletta Massone Won
Adapted Screenplay Michael Konyves Nominated
Original Score Pasquale Catalano Won
Best Makeup Adrien Morot and Micheline Trépanier Won
Golden Globes[13] January 16, 2011 Best Actor - Comedy/Musical Film Paul Giamatti Won
Jutra Awards March 13, 2011 Best Screenplay Michael Konyves Nominated
Best Art Direction Claude Paré Nominated
Best Hair Réjean Goderre Won
Best Makeup Réjean Goderre Won
London Film Critics Circle Awards[14] February 10, 2011 Best British Actress Rosamund Pike Nominated
Best British Supporting Actress Minnie Driver Nominated
Satellite Awards[15] December 19, 2010 Best Supporting Actress Rosamund Pike Nominated


  1. ^ McClintock, Pamela (November 6, 2010). "Territory deals sealed for 'Barney's Version'". Variety. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Barney's Version (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  3. ^ "Barney's Version (U.S. only) (2011) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  4. ^ Lacey, Liam (July 28, 2010). "Lantos's version, 13 years later". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on July 31, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  5. ^ "Venezia 67". July 29, 2010. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  6. ^ MacDonald, Gayle (July 31, 2010). "Barney's Version world premiere to take place in Italy". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on July 31, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  7. ^ "Dead Scuba Diver in Tree". November 2, 1997.
  8. ^ Kelly, Brendan (January 11, 2011). "Barney's Version booming at the box office". The Gazette. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  9. ^ "Barney's Version". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  10. ^ "Barney's Version". Metacritic.
  11. ^ "Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  12. ^ "Villeneuve’s Incendies wins eight Genies, including best picture". The Globe and Mail, March 10, 2011.
  13. ^ "Paul Giamatti - Golden Globes Awards". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  14. ^ Ng, Philiana (December 20, 2010). "The King's Speech, Another Year Lead Nominations at London Critics' Circle Film Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  15. ^ "2010 Nominations" (PDF). International Press Academy. Retrieved October 21, 2015.

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