Thursday 26 May 2011


Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, read on to find out what I thought of this Paul Giamatti starring comedy...

Barney Panofsky's love life is a series of catastrophic misadventures that's left a path of destruction in his wake. Spanning 40 years of Barney's life, the older and wiser Barney reminisces about his romantic past, and the women he's loved and lost along the way.

Starring the always excellent Paul Giamatti in its lead role, Barney Panofsky is a Royal Tenenbaum-esque rogue who may often come across as a complete schmuck, but really he's got a big heart. Prone to ruining things just as his life is getting in order, it's the women in his life he are the driving force in his chaotic life. But who are the women in his life? As his ongoing list of ex-wives, Rachelle LeFevre and in particular Minnie Driver have fun in their comedic roles, and Rosamund Pike brings a lot of heart to her less fun, dramatic role. Easily perceivable as flashbacks, his remembrances often appear to be through rose-tinted glasses (but perhaps with a slight crack in them); but as this is all told from Barney's point of view, the overly romanticised nature can be excused.

Oddly, Barney's successful family life is glossed over, instead choosing to jump forward to the point where he messes it all up again. It almost takes an Eternal Sunshine approach to revelling in Barney's most miserable moments, but offers a few sparkling scenes of family bliss to balance it out. A lot of the film's most charming moments fall to Dustin Hoffman's character. As Panofsky senior, Hoffman absolutely steals every scene he's in; not an easy feat when starring opposite a scene stealer extraordinaire of the calibre of Paul Giamatti.

To recreate the earlier and later parts of Barney's life, they've relied on a variety of make-up techniques to 'accentuate' the actor's performances. Unfortunately, the aging/de-aging techniques are very distracting, with Paul Giamatti never looking convincingly young (although at only 43 now, he's always looked old beyond his years), and Rosamund Pike never looking convincingly old.

A fun and often moving drama, it would have been a lot less compelling to watch if not for the presence of Paul Giamatti. When the film takes a somewhat drastic turn towards the tragic in its final act, it gives Giamatti an opportunity to prove what a fine actor he really is, his Golden Globe Award well and truly earnt.


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