There are novels that shouldn't be made into movies, and then there are novels that can thrive on the big screen -- if only they can be shaped cinematically. A number of writers tried to tackle famous Canadian novelist Mordechai Richler's Barney's Version over the years -- including the author himself -- but it was TV writer Michael Konyves who knew how to whittle away at the dense, 417-page satire and come out with a crisp tale that loses some of the bitter edge, replaces it with humanity, and gives a talented stable of actors the chance to offer up some of their best work.
Barney's Version focuses on the life and loves of one Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti). He has a close relationship with his awkward and inappropriate father Izzy (Dustin Hoffman), an ongoing friendship with his old pal and carefree soul Boogie (Scott Speedman), and three wives whose marriages map out Barney's trajectory. Clara (Rachelle Lefevre) is a troubled young woman who doesn't seem quite right, "Mrs. P" (Minnie Driver) is a Jewish American Princess so annoying and ill-suited for Barney that she doesn't have a name, and finally Miriam (Rosamund Pike) is the love of Barney's life. His world plays out from the drug-ridden, carefree European days of the '70s, to a modern-day Montreal reality of age and loss.