Barney loves you
IBarney’s Version, comic drama, rated R, Regal DeVargas, 2.5 chiles Barney’s Version opens with a close-up of a glass of liquor, a smoldering cigar in an ashtray, and an overturned vial of pills. Barney is calling his ex-wife at 3:30 in the morning, which doesn’t make her new husband happy, particularly since Barney wants to know what he should do with the nude photos he has of her. The phone call causes the new husband to suffer a heart attack, but Barney doesn’t care: come the morning, he blithely stumbles off to his job at his company, Totally Unnecessary Productions. You just know it’s going to be one of those days.
Barney has had one of those lives: too much drink, some drugs, plenty of cigars, the inexplicable disappearance of a close friend (was it murder?), and three wives, which was two too many for Barney. But Miriam, that last one — the one he called in the middle of the night — well, she is a winner. She’s the one who teaches him how to love.
Written by Michael Konyves, Barney’s Version is based on the late Canadian writer and journalist Mordecai Richler’s memory novel of the same title. (Among Richler’s other works is 1959’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which led to the 1974 film version). Barney’s Version is an unpredictable movie, which is very much in its favor, but it’s also a film in need of tighter editing and a stronger script. As it looks back on the life, loves, and losses of its protagonist from the mid1970s on, Barney’s Lives just doesn’t have the power to sustain itself without asking for some extended patience on the part of the viewer.
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