LET'S PLAY DRESS-UP! Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman in Barney's Version
Credit: Takashi Seida

Paul Giamatti, dialing down his trembly-voiced neurotic energy to good effect, gives a holy hell of a performance as Barney Panofsky in Barney’s Version, the Montreal soap opera producer at the center of Mordecai Richler’s 1997 novel, and a character who feels like a new screen type: a mensch and a pill at the same time. The movie, which covers Barney’s search for love and happiness over 35 years, is episodic, with too much Montreal Jewish kitsch (e.g., Minnie Driver’s overwrought performance as Barney’s second wife). But it’s also full of feeling. Barney meets the love of his life (Rosamund Pike) at his own wedding, and their subsequent marriage is long, deep-rooted, and heartrending. B+