For his feature debut, Danish filmmaker Asger Leth follows his 2006 documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil (co-directed with Milos Loncarevic) with something entirely different; a high concept action thriller that is about as Hollywood as they come. That’s to say that everything is overblown, from premise to location and effects, and – like so many of its genre – it’s entirely throwaway.
Having relaunched in 2010 with the promise of delivering solid horror films for a modern audience, the output from the rebooted Hammer Films has been something of a mixed bag. While its inaugural release, remake Let Me In, was received with great fanfare, subsequent films The Resident and Wake Wood have been less successful. So with its first big release, The Woman in Black, Hammer has much to prove – and has piled on the pressure by choosing to adapt a story that’s not only a bestselling novel but also a long running West End play.
At the heart of Barney’s Version is a powerful performance from Paul Giamatti, as an ageing curmudgeon looking back over his past. He blunders his way through two marriages—to a tortured artist (Rachelle Lefevre) and a Jewish socialite (Minnie Driver)—and has no direction until he meets the beautiful Miriam (Rosmund Pike). Only his relationships with his father (Dustin Hoffman) and best friend (Scott Speedman) are constant, but even these are not straightforward.