Barney's Version (2010)
In 1997, Canadian novelist Mordecai Richter wrote "Barney's Version", and in 2010, director Richard J. Lewis filmed this adapted version penned by Michael Konyves. The story is about an ageing, bitter divorcee called Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), who takes a step back to look at his life and marriages, starting from the mid-70s when he was in his late 20s, and ranging to present time, when his wife and love of his life has left him for another man and his kids are off to college. Throughout his story we get to experience ups and downs, warmth and selfishness, romance and cynisism – in short, all you can expect from a long life fully lived by a man as flawed as any of us. The biggest key to the film's success, in addition to Paul Giamatti's brilliant performance in the lead and his wonderful relationship with the father, played with bravura by the ever-great Dustin Hoffman, is the empathetic humour with which Richter infuses his organic story. The term "creating a universe" is often attributed to the fantasy genre, but I would rather use it on what Richter, Konyves and Lewis have done here, because after these two hours, you feel that you've lived this man's life - with all the bittersweetness that living a life entails. And in Barney's case, a little craziness to boot.