Courtesy of the Cineworld mailing list, I managed to wangle two preview tickets for the new Paul Giamatti film. I knew nothing about it before screening, and sometimes this is a good thing. It meant I was all the more pleasantly surprised by…
“Whatever it ******* takes!”
See it if you like: heartwarming dramas with genuinely funny moments
Plot-in-a-nutshell: A well-meaning but skint lawyer takes on guardianship of an old man, and finds things somewhat snowballing from there.
I like being surprised by films. It’s one reason I’m not a huge fan of watching trailers, especially not for blockbusters or comedies where they insist on showing you every single good moment. I think that’s part of the reason I liked Win Win so much – I had no preconceptions.
Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, a rarity amongst lawyers in that he’s not dodgy, nor is he rich. In fact, business is bad. When the chance comes up to take guardianship of old Leo Poplar (Burt Young) in exchange for $1500 a month, he takes it. Then dumps the old fella into a care home anyway. Tut tut.
Things become complicated when Poplar’s grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) appears out of nowhere, looking for grandad. He’s trying to escape from life with his drugged-up mother (the as-ever gorgeous Melanie Lynskey), and the Flaherty family end up taking him in.
The disaffected youth turns out to be a bit of a wrestling prodigy, and Flaherty’s life starts to look up – the “win win” situation of the title. Of course, as in every film, the lies start to trip our protagonist up…
Win Win is very well scripted. It’s almost like a TV drama in the lack of extremely tense moments, or huge focal scenes. Instead, it’s just a nice story with some wonderfully believable characters. Mike’s wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) is a wonderfully varied character, unsure whether to punch Kyle’s mother in the face, throw the somewhat unusual boy out or let her maternal instincts take over and look after him.
I could have watched this film for another hour, I was so engrossed. Genuinely entertaining, clever, funny and well-acted. Oh, Shaffer didn’t have to act too hard in the wrestling scenes. He won the New Jersey State Wrestling Championship last year, aged 17.
- Review: Win Win (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Paul Giamatti’s new film Win Win may be indie but it’s too formulaic (guardian.co.uk)
- Win Win is a Win Win (anofs.wordpress.com)
- Review: ‘Win Win’ is Tom McCarthy’s latest gem (cnn.com)