Paul Giamatti is as good an actor as there is at playing the small and twisted little men that you nevertheless root for, if only because they seem to have never actually managed to chalk up a W in their lives. It’s the kind of role he nailed in Sideways and it’s the sort that he appears to return to here in Barney’s Version.
It’s a great hook for a film, falling in love with someone else at your own wedding. It’s exactly that sort of pathetic but somehow sympathetic character turn that you can buy coming from Giamatti. The only problem is, that particularly story is only one story of the novel upon which the film is based. The novel (of the same name) is told from the point of view of Barney at the end of his life, as he gives his version of events that his nemesis has slanderously published. There are hints in the trailer that the movie knows it is about more than one relationship (the central story that drives the novel is the murder of Barney’s best friend), but hopefully the trailer is just focusing on a particular story because advertising folks deemed it the best way to market it.
The film as received praise at film festivals and is still looking for wide release in December of this year.