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Life's disorder takes center stage in comedy, 'Barney's Version'

[ 2011-01-24 14:30]     字号 [] [] []  
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Life's disorder takes center stage in comedy, 'Barney's Version'

The final novel by acclaimed Canadian author Mordecai Richler is now a motion picture starring American actor Paul Giamatti as the prickly and complex Barney Panofsky, recounting the high and low points of his checkered life. Here's a look at Barney's Version.

"For the first time in my life, I'm truly, seriously, irretrievably in love."

"So am I, Barney, So am I."

There is more to that tender scene with Mr. and Mrs. Barney Panofsky. Yes, he has met the woman of his dreams, but she is not his new bride; and complicating matters - as Barney so often does - they met at his wedding to that new bride.

"Are you out of your mind?"

"No, I'm bent over backwards in love with you! Miriam, I'm the heels over head."

"Don't be ridiculous, We just met, at your wedding. It's not funny."

But life always seems to be playing jokes on Barney, even when he turns to his beloved father - retired police detective Izzy Panofsky - for some paternal wisdom:

"You're talking to someone who knows how hard marriage can be. In the beginning it's all briskets and lah-de-dah and ain't life grand; but soon enough real life starts, right?"

"This is the paternal wisdom I'm going to get?"

Life's disorder takes center stage in comedy, 'Barney's Version'

His work as a successful TV show producer in Montreal is easy compared with trying to figure out how to end his marriage so he can pursue Miriam. Fortunately (for Barney, at least), finding Mrs. P in the arms of his best friend solves the problem.

"My wife and my best friends, Good Heavens!"

"I just, I took over a little food, because I was worried about him. He was trembling, sweating, soaked sheets. I only laid down beside him to try to keep him warm... I don't know how he got my robe off."

"No, It's a mystery."

Abrasive, acerbic, arrogant: you can go through a whole alphabet of adjectives to describe Barney; and Paul Giamatti, who calls the character a "lovable rogue," says he never worried about Barney's antics pushing audiences away.

Life's disorder takes center stage in comedy, 'Barney's Version'

"I am all for pushing people as far as I can," admits Giamatti. "I kind of like to see how far I can push people. Fortunately this had built-in breaks in it so I wasn't going to do that in this because he does have many moments of not being so horrible and hard to take; but I sort of find it interesting to make people uncomfortable and challenge them to like somebody who is not terribly likeable."

In fact, Barney - at least in his own version of his life - can be downright easy to love. He must be to get three women to fall for and marry him. Rosamund Pike plays Miriam, the true love of Barney's life (the one he meets at his wedding to the second Mrs. P); and Pike says her character is wooed by his charm and determination.

Life's disorder takes center stage in comedy, 'Barney's Version'

"He does woo her, but interestingly, it is not the flowers, the posh lunch or wooing her by taking her to a fancy hotel or flying to New York to meet her; it's kind of the little things," explains Pike. "It's seeing him pass out drunk, but knowing that's because he was nervous. It's coming into the room and seeing five ties laid out and 15 shirts and realizing that this guy was nervous and how much it mattered to him."

"I'm just going to keep talking because I'm afraid if I stop there's going to be pause, or a break, where you'll say "it's getting late" or, "I should probably get going" and I'm not ready for that to happen, I don't want it to happen. Ever."

"There it was. The pause."


"I'm still here."

Pike said that she prepared for playing Miriam by meeting author Mordecai Richler's widow, Florence, who was the inspiration for the character (and who he really did meet and fall in love with on the day he married his second wife). Barney Panofsky appears in several Richler stories as something of the author's alter ego and Barney's Version, published in 1997, turned out to be his last novel. Richler died at age 70 in 2001, but not before starting to work on the film version with producer Robert Lantos, who continued the project as a tribute to his longtime collaborator and friend.

"The challenge of the whole thing was to honor the book and to preserve the spirit of the book and integrity of it," explains Lantos, "and find a way to translate it into a two-hour visual experience that stands up to the vast majority of the audience who has never read the book and never will."

"I cannot believe that this really happens. It really happens. Just like that. It's amazing, no? And I don't care if it happened on my wedding night or at a funeral or my deathbed. It happened."

Barney's Version is directed by Richard Lewis and the cast features Minnie Driver as the "second Mrs. P." Dustin Hoffman is Barney's father Izzy with Scott Speedman playing his lifelong best friend, Boogie. Screenwriter Michael Konyves adapted the novel into a script and Barney's Version was shot on location in Montreal, Rome and New York City.

prickly: of a person easily annoyed or offended 易怒的;爱生气的

checkered: marked by periods of varied fortune or discreditable incidents 多变的;好坏交替的

abrasive: of a person or their manner rude and unkind; acting in a way that may hurt other people's feelings 生硬粗暴的;粗鲁的;伤人感情的

rogue: a person who behaves badly, but in a harmless way 无赖;捣蛋鬼

antics: behaviour which is silly and funny in a way that people usually like 滑稽可笑的举止

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(来源:VOA 编辑:崔旭燕)