This has to be a Canadian salute to one of Canadian great writers Mordecai Richler. I say that because you will find great Canadian directors acting in this film: Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, and Denys Arcand. Then we have Macha Grenon, one of more famous Quèbec actors, playing “180 year-old” Solange. But Paul Giamatti‘s Barney Panofsky is the center of this nasty and messy film about love, loyalty, friendship, and dementia.
The story is semi-autobiographic of the life of Richler himself through his marriages. Barney has three wives, Clara ‘Chambers’ Charnofsky (Rachelle Lefevre) first wife commits suicide, rich second wife (Minnie Driver) ends up divorcing Barney after he finds her frolicking with his best friend Boogie (Scott Speedman), who is a junkie-writer. Barney is a TV show producer; the show is definitely a spin-off from Due South (TV series), this soap stars Constable O’Malley of the North(Paul Gross)-conincidence,eh!- and Solange(Macha Grenon).
The main story is about Barney’s finding true love in the most unusual place-his wedding. He watches Miriam Grant(Rosamund Pike)-slightly recognizable past bond girl-across the hall, drunk, and falls in love with her at first sight. He pursuits her until she acquiesces, but she falls for him too.
A subplot is the weekend he finds out that “victorious” affair between his best friend Boogie and his wife, and its aftermath. Izzy Panofsky(Dustin Hoffman) is Barney’s dad, he gives him his first gun as a wedding present. Boggie finds the gun, but Barney gets hold of it, they fight at the pier out of the cottage… Barney drops from heavy drinking, gun fires, and Boggie falls into the lake. Detective O’Hearne(Mark Addy)-didn’t recognize him-investigates Boogie’s disappearance, although reported by Barney. There is a forest fire, and a fire plane is scooping water off the lake.
Despite Barney’s undying love for Miriam, he cheats, they divorce.
Barney is the nasty part of the film I talked earlier. He is what he is, and habits die hard! But at the end I did feel sorry for him, which means Paul Giamatti was triumph in this role!
WATCH…count how many Canadian artists you spot in this film!