There’s some­thing barmy about Bar­ney

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

mem­oir, the film trawls through its pro­tag­o­nist’s rec­ol­lec­tions in a haze de­ter­mined by neu­roses and Alzheimer’s. Time di­lates ac­cord­ingly; we spend years on one mar­riage and sec­onds on an­other. There are con­flict­ing re­ports re­gard­ing a missing junkie friend (Scott Speed­man), who may or may not have dis­ap­peared with Bar­ney’s “as­sis­tance”. There are any num­ber of in­con­sis­ten­cies and tan­gents.

Against this brave dra­matic sprawl, it is not too sur­pris­ing to see Atom Egoyan and David Cro­nen­berg lend their sup­port with cameos, or to learn that the adap­ta­tion process took more than a decade. Un­hap­pily, the film’s un­com­pro­mis­ing form is of­ten its un­do­ing.

There is sim­ply far too much in­for­ma­tion and com­plex­ity in Richard J Lewis’s tex­tured screen adap­ta­tion to de­ter­mine what ex­actly, if any­thing, we ought to be fo­cus­ing on. The huge emo­tional swells and punches – the death of Bar­ney’s fa­ther, his fi­nal mar­i­tal fail­ings – sub­se­quently fail to con­nect as they might.

Gi­ammati’s tremen­dous cen­tral turn goes some dis­tance to mak­ing sense of an an­ar­chic nar­ra­tive that can feel like a breath­less se­ries of “and thens”. His de­feated, kind, self-serv­ing, para­dox­i­cal Bar­ney war­rants a Guer­nica-style can­vas and al­most gets one with this left­field pic­ture. The Golden Globe and any other plau­dits that come Gia­matti’s way are well de­served.

Di­rected by Richard J. Lewis. Star­ring Paul Gia­matti, Dustin Hoff­man, Rosamund Pike, Min­nie Driver, Rachelle Le­fevre, Scott Speed­man, Bruce Green­wood, Saul Ru­binek, Denys Ar­cand, Atom Egoyan, David Cro­nen­berg One for the road: Paul Gia­matti as Bar­ney

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