|Arabic subtitles Win Win||2 years ago|
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8/10 Win Win is a terrific multigenre sleeper. It's funny, even hilarious; it has mystery and action; and it features brilliant performances by the always-reliable Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan. It's also not a movie that wallows in treacly messages, and it's not a movie that uses sports as a crutch for "finding one's inner strength." In short, it's a wonderful, top-notch movie.2 years ago
Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, a small-time lawyer who's running low on cash. He moonlights as coach of the local high-school team, which is, to put it bluntly, terrible. In a burst of fiscal sanity, Mike offers to become legal guardian for Leo, one of his clients (played by the crusty Burt Young), who's just been declared legally incapacitated. Why? Because as his guardian, Mike gets $1500 a month. But since he wants to avoid the extra hassle of actually taking care of Leo, he puts him in a nice home. Seriously, it's a nice home, with nice people and a big flat-screen TV.
At this point, the movie wants us on Mike's side sort of. He needs the cash, and he doesn't really want to tell his wife Jackie (Ryan) that they're running low, not with two young daughters to care for as well. Plus he's coach of a terrible team and is just swimming in stress. Swimming in it. So much so that while jogging to work off the stress, he suffers a panic attack.
Just when Mike thinks some of his problems have been solved, teenage Kyle (Alex Shaffer) walks into his life. Kyle, it turns out, his Leo's grandson, and they've never met. Kyle's been sent by his mom to visit Leo. At first, this complicates things especially when Kyle seems awfully reluctant to go back home to Ohio but then Mike's remaining big problem is solved. It turns out the kid is a gifted wrestler. Who'd have thought that? He looks scrawny, but in practices Kyle shows he has the mettle. And thus things are riding well for Mike.
But this would be a truly dull (if inspirational) movie if things continued to ride well. One thing we learn early on is that Mike intentionally misled the judge in Leo's case, giving the impression that he would be actively taking care of Leo. But things really get going when Kyle's druggie mom (Melanie Lynskey) shows up to bring her boy back and to take over as Leo's guardian.
Too often, Giamatti has played real sad-sack characters, guys who just can't seem to catch a break, guys who suffer at the hands of fickle fate. Not so here. Mike isn't exactly a conniving mastermind, but he's not an idiot, either, and he deals with each situation with logic and reason, even as they spiral further out of his control. It's a typically masterful Giamatti performance, and for once he's not a total loser who's in over his head. He's even a half-decent coach who simply has a lackluster team to work with.
Giamatti's not alone, though. I really got a kick out of Amy Ryan's performance as his somewhat-exasperated spouse Jackie, who's not terribly fond of suddenly having a teenage boy around at first. A few years back, Ryan turned in an Oscar-nominated performance as a native Bostonian in Gone Baby Gone. Ryan had a thick, believable Boston accent then. Here, she's playing a New Jersey native, but at no point does she go overboard with the Jersey Shore dialect. That's what good actresses can do they can dial it back when they have to and show a little nuance.
Win Win is not a stand-up-and-cheer movie, although the audience at the screening I attended applauded when it was over. It's not a crime drama, and it doesn't really have a lot of twists to its plot. What makes it work are all of the truly sincere, dead-on performances: by Giamatti, Ryan, Shaffer, Lynskey, Bobby Cannavale, and even Jeffrey Tambor as one of Mike's wrestling assistant coaches. Not a sour note in the bunch, everyone at the top of his or her game.
This might have fared well, critically, if it were released during awards season. It sort of reminded me of last year's Greenburg, starring Ben Stiller, only funnier and sweeter. Win Win is a charming, quiet movie that reminds us that, as the Grateful Dead once told us, once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
Funny, authentic and brutally honest.
8/10 Win Win is one of those few comedy's that actually make sense and has a barbaric touch of honesty. Thomas McCarthy is officially a filmmaker to watch his fresh and hearty writing makes you want for more. Paul Giamatti is excellent as usual but in a different way, in a way we never saw him before. His character is extremely refined, his lines are cheerful and his acting is effervescent. Cynicism and eccentric acts are Au rendezvous; the supporting cast is amusing every detail is funny. On the whole the movie shines with Giammati's feisty lines and McCarthy's intelligent writing despite few low moments Win Win is a sure Win in comedy2 years ago
A Charming film about Love, Family, and Wrestling
9/10 Win Win is a charming delightful film about an ordinary family dealing with the struggles of everyday life. Writer/Director Tom McCarthy should be commended for his excellent work. Paul Giamatti a true everyman actor delivers a wonderful performance as a lawyer and wrestling coach struggling with the challenges of family and money in New Jersey. In the process of taking guardianship for an elderly client Giamatti's character, Mike Flaherty, becomes enmeshed in the old man's family when the old man's grandson shows up literally on his front doorstep. The teenager turns out to be an incredible wrestler, which is a great asset to Mike's awful wrestling team. And then things begin to get complicated. Giamatti specializes in bringing forth flawed characters that are delightfully human. This is a funny, sweet film that combines comedy and drama. Win Win also reminds us that family goes well beyond blood relatives; family is the constantly evolving circle of people that we love and care about. I literally walked out of theater just feeling much better than when I walked in. That has to be one of the best ways to judge any film.2 years ago
very sweet and very funny film
8/10 Actor-turned-director Tom McCarthy has put together a fine third feature in Win Win. All of his films tend to have compact stories that are small in scope but feature a very focused lens on the lives of their characters.2 years ago
One might say that Win Win is perhaps his most conventional dramedy, as it features a normal suburban family with normal suburban problems. Paul Giamatti is "Mike Flaherty" an attorney with a small practice who's also a high school wrestling coach. He's not perfect, but he's doing the best he can. He and his wife "Jackie" (the always wonderful Amy Ryan) are busy raising two kids and leading their quiet life. But when Mike gives into temptation to become the guardian of one his elderly clients (for the $1,500 a month commission) things get to be a little more complicated. The client's grandson, a troubled 16-year-old kid named "Kyle" (Alex Shaffer) comes to stay with his grandfather while his mother goes through her drug treatment. Since his grandfather is living in a retirement home, Kyle ends up staying with Mike and Jackie, who feel compelled to help the kid out.
The film is funny and sweet and paints a really true-to-life portrait of its characters. No one is purely good or purely bad, they're all just human. They make mistakes, whether large or small, and they try to make up for them. In that way, the film will strike a nice honest chord with most of its audience.
Paul Giamatti is great in this, giving a much lower key performance than some of his previous works like American Splendor, Sideways, and even "John Adams." He falls into the suburban dad character very well and wears the character's skin rather nicely. Amy Ryan is always a joy to see on-screen, but I was a bit disappointed that her character was a little one-dimensional, depicting her primarily as a stay at home housewife and mother. Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor are fun to watch as well, but serve generally to provide comedic relief (which they do in abundance) and their characters aren't nearly as well painted as Mike or Kyle.
Alex Shaffer, in his very first role, holds his own among some heavyweight actors. I thought some of the emotional scenes were a bit rough for him, but if he decides to continue his acting, more experience will only help to mature his instincts and abilities. Now, outside those heavily emotional scenes, Shaffer is great. His sort of deadpan, monotone delivery works very well for the character.
Kudos go out to Thomas McCarthy's directorial style and talent. He's put together three solid films, all of them equally enjoyable and smart. With Win Win, he's proved he can move past the "loner" archetype of his previous films and move into something more family oriented and encompassing of more characters (although when I think about it The Station Agent had that type of familial quality to it in the friends that Finbar meets). Either way, McCarthy is batting 1.000 in my book and has yet to have a misstep.
When the film releases on March 18th, I'd highly recommend people go and check it out. It's a very sweet and very funny film that deserves the large audience it hopefully will get.
Great characters looking for something in life and "Win Win" just might be that something
8/10 As in Thomas McCarthy's first film, "The Station Agent", there is an2 years ago
air of loneliness to the characters in "Win Win" but also with an
ability to be kind and with a whole lot of humour permeating
throughout. Mike (Paul Giamatti) is approaching a mid-life crisis; the
monotony of daily life and money troubles colliding. But this is a well
written film and it doesn't look or feel like a mid-life crisis.
Just as we get to know the characters exceedingly well (despite the
short air time for some - Bobby Cannavale's Terry), a plot is
introduced. Mike starts acting like a sleazy lawyer just to make some
easy money, even though he's anything but a sleazy lawyer. Because he's
a good guy, realities quickly catch up, and he starts taking
responsibility for a troubled kid. Mostly trying to assuage his guilt
of wrong-doing, but this kid happens to be a wrestling phenom and Mike
is a struggling high school wrestling coach. This film could easily
turn into an underdog sports story, but as I said before, this is a
well written film and it doesn't look or feel like an underdog sports
I found "Win Win" to be a great mix of character study, a mid-life
crisis, and an underdog sports story all rolled into something that
isn't any of the above. It's a light, funny, enjoyable slice of life
that could provide a few lessons on morality but stops itself before it