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Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week: 'Barney's Version'

February 24, 2011 | 11:17 am

If you’re looking for a satisfying performance piece that is far from the maddening Oscar crowds, consider “Barney’s Version,” starring Paul Giamatti.

Underappreciated, it has still managed to find a surprisingly long life in theaters. This little gem of a movie is based on the stinging, satirical novel by (and about) the late, great Canadian author Mordecai Richler.

Its exceptional cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike, Scott Speedman and Minnie Driver, but is built around Giamatti’s Barney -- prickly, politically incorrect and absolutely charming. A lifetime and a great character are all that Giamatti needs, and watching him go from young turk to old man is such a pleasure. (Adrien Morot is nominated for an Oscar for makeup for helping that aging process along.)

The scenes between Hoffman and Giamatti as father and son fairly crackle on screen. Oh, and the guy playing Barney’s son Michael? That would be Hoffman’s promising progeny, Jake.

-- Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, father and son, at one of Barney's weddings in "Barney's Version." Credit: Takashi Seida / Sony Pictures

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