Win Win

By James Burbidge

Released: 20/05/2011

Off the back of indie hits The Station Agent and The Visitor, Tom McCarthy has moved into slightly broader, more commercial territory with Win Win. In this film he finds a wonderful balance between an open and easy story, and delicately off indie characters that lie at the heart of his work. Casting Paul Giamatti, an indie heavyweight with Hollywood cred, is a move that will surely reap rewards: this is a perfect Giamatti role. 

Win Win

He stars as Michael Flaherty, a small lawyer, struggling to keep his one-man practice afloat. Specializing in the elderly allows him to make a morally questionable decision that will give him the money to carry on supporting his family. From this decision, of course, comes a world of complications. In his spare time Flaherty coaches the school wrestling team, which failed to win a single match last season. When Flaherty comes across the troubled and homeless Kyle he takes him in, only to find he is something of a wrestling prodigy.

Mcarthy’s script (written with the help of a former wrestling buddy) is a refreshingly realistic view of suburbia. Avoiding both satire and melodrama it is none-the-less touching and funny. Giamatti excels as the man who made one mistake trying to do the right thing for his family, who just can’t work out how to right it. This is not an unfamiliar character, but McCarthy and Giamatti pull it off particularly well. He is surrounded by a stalwart cast, including the always excellent Amy Ryan, the poignant Burt Young and the very funny Bobby Cannavale. Special mention, however, must go to the debut of wrestling star Alex Shaffer, who last acted when he was 6. His deadpan performance brings a lot of laughs in the first half of the film, and although his range is tested in the more emotional second half, he does an excellent job. None of the components of this film are startling or new: one mistake, troubled teen, sports hero etc are all familiar tropes. What makes this well worth the watch is McCarthy’s gentle, irreverent style and yet another strong performance from Giamatti.

Watch the trailer

Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Written by: Tom McCarthy
Featuring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer
Running Time: 106 min
Certificate: 15


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About The Author

James Burbidge James performs a plethora of tasks for Raindance; writing articles, editing the newsletter, managing Twitter, helping on courses, organising volunteers and running the script services are but a few of the ones he is allowed to tell you about.
When he isn’t daydreaming about daylight he watches films (well, duh!) reads a bit, writes a bit and kicks arse at ultimate Frisbee.




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