Friday, December 10, 2010
Released in a very limited run (probably for Oscar consideration), this is a little Indie film with a big emotional payoff. Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler, this is the story of Barney Panofsky and the journey through his adult life. It's dramatic with some comedic moments and you will quickly find yourself emotionally invested in Barney's life through all his ups and downs.
Paul Giamatti plays Barney and his rich, layered, terrific performance pulls you in and keeps you there for the entire ride. It's easily one of his best roles. Supporting him are Dustin Hoffman as Izzy, his father, along with Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike as two important women in his life. Mr. Hoffman is a joy to watch as he makes the most of his supporting character (he gets most of the laughs). Ms. Driver portrays a Montreal "Jewish American Princess" very accurately and Ms. Pike is a breath of fresh air in a role I will not reveal.
Richard J. Lewis directs this gem and condenses an adult lifetime into little more than two hours running time without sacrificing major plot points. Watching the film, you can imagine the complexity of the novel but the edited screenplay still captures the heart of the story and Mr. Lewis moves things along at a comfortable pace.
What makes everything work so well is Mr. Giamatti's portrayal of this fascinating character. I hope the release strategy pays off and he is recognized for his fine work here.