Claire Forlani's body double had to work overtime in last night's episode.
Eva Green had the week off, since evil Morgan le Fey (usually Eva) was disguised
as good Queen Igrayne (Claire) while the real Igrayne was held captive. So:
- Wearing a flimsy, diaphanous gown, Igrayne was bathed while chained up.
- Morgan (looking like Igrayne) bathed herself. This appears to be part of a
ritual that allows her to change her appearance.
- Morgan (looking like Igrayne) had sex with Merlin (looking like
Shakespeare in love).
That plot line gave Claire Forlani three nude and see-through scenes,
and she seems to have
used a body double for all three. (I'm not sure about the see-through.) You
have to wonder why they cast her, knowing there would be multiple nude scenes,
and knowing she would not do them. If all those conditions were really known in
advance, why not just hire an attractive 40ish actress who is willing to get
naked and still looks good in the buff? There must be in inside story there, but
I don't know what it is. Yes, Claire is still gorgeous, and she is a good
actress. (She did a good impersonation of Eva Green's intonations and
mannerisms.) But surely there are actresses who could have fit the role and
would also have looked good naked.
Tamsin Egerton did show a
breast in a short sex scene
Barney's Version is a Canadian screen adaptation of a novel by famed
Canadian author Mordecai Richler. Richler is sort of the Canadian Philip Roth,
an outspoken, sometime raunchy chronicler of life in the Jewish community of his
youth. His stories are often based on the places and people who occupied his
childhood in a blue-collar ethnic neighborhood in Montreal. Richler's
sensibilities were formed by his having been part of a third level of
disrespect: English speakers are outnumbered and often scorned in Quebec; within
that minority Jews are outnumbered and often scorned by Christians; and within
that minority everyday blue-collar Jews tend to be looked down upon by the
snobby successful ones. Richler uses all three of those conditions as a
backdrop, or maybe a frontdrop, for his novels. The most famous of Richler's
novels, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, was made into a prestigious, if
little-seen, 1974 film starring Richard Dreyfuss, who was then hot off his
success in American Graffiti. Duddy Kravitz took in a Golden Globe nomination
for Best Foreign Film (Canada being the foreign country), and the screenplay by
Lionel Chetwynd was nominated for an Oscar.
In simplest terms, Barney's Version is the life story of a blunt, crude
fellow who finds his true love on the day of his second wedding to another
woman, but Richler is a serious author, so there's a lot more going on than can
be summed up by that catch phrase.
There are actually three main stories going on in Barney's Version. The
central story is Barney's pursuit of his true love. The second is Barney's
relationship with his dad, a Montreal beat cop played by Dustin Hoffman. The
third is a murder mystery. Well, sorta. A Montreal detective believes that
Barney (Paul Giamatti) shot and killed his friend Boogie. This is not an
unreasonable assumption, given that Barney is known to have fired two shots
after having caught Boogie in the sack with Barney's second wife. Did Barney
commit the crime? Even he does not know. He and Boogie were both extremely drunk
and playing with a gun on a private boat dock. Barney fired a shot in Boogie's
direction and passed out. When Barney regained consciousness, Boogie was gone.
On the other hand, Boogie, a junkie and a free-spirit, was known to disappear
for years without telling anyone, and his body was never found. So ...
Of the three central threads, the only one I truly enjoyed was the loving
relationship between Barney and his outspoken dad. The love story is movie
business as usual, and the murder mystery is mostly unmysterious and
unsatisfying as a sub-plot, but Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman are two of the
greatest character actors of their respective generations, and they are
absolutely magnificent when they perform together, whether engaging in witty
banter or mushy sentiment. Barney's second wedding is the best scene in the
film. Barney and his dad get falling-down drunk and are obviously fish out of
water in the company of Barney's snobby in-laws. Barney's dad shocks most of the
staid crowd by telling raunchy and violent cop stories, but dad seems downright
dignified compared to Barney, who spends the entire reception drinking sloppily,
watching hockey, offending his father-in-law, and flirting with another woman, who he then pursues to the
Montreal train station, thus abandoning his own wedding. That woman turns out to
be his true love.
If the rest of the film had retained more of the high spirits and iconoclasm
of that wedding, Barney's Version could have been an excellent film.
Unfortunately, the plot degenerates into maudlin scenes about Barney's eventual
Alzheimer's disease, although that specific term is never spoken aloud. Barney
goes from being a likeable curmudgeon in the first half, to a pathetic and
helpless old man in the finale. Since the feisty personalities of Barney and his
dad are the only elements that make the film work, the film simply grinds to a
halt when they are gone. Unfortunately, the author and director did not seem to
realize that. The film runs more than two hours. After an hour I was completely
absorbed with Barney's Version. After 90 minutes I was looking at my watch, trying to figure out how
much longer things would drag on. After 120 minutes I was wishing to be a
religious man, so I could pray for deliverance from this film.