Saturday, October 8, 2011

recent movie review - Win Win

In this age of remakes and sequels it is nice to find a movie that is almost 100% original.  Win Win is that movie.  It perfectly combines elements from many genres to become a genre of it's own.  And the fact that it doesn't always go in the direction you think it will and doesn't tie up all of the lose ends in a perfect bow by the time the credits roll, made me like it even more.

Paul Giamatti is Mike Flaherty, a New Jersey lawyer who volunteers as the wrestling coach for the local high school.  When he finds his law business isn't paying his bills and with a wife (Amy Ryan) and two small children at home, he stumbles across a way to bring in some extra money each month, even though it is very suspect and pretty much illegal.   Add in a teenage runaway who used to wrestle and who has other demons in his past who Giamatti becomes somewhat of a surrogate father to and you end up with a film that is part legal drama, part sports film, part coming of age movie, part family drama and when you add it all up Win Win ends up being a big "win win" in my book.

Giamatti and Shaffer
Giamatti once again makes a role completely realistic, honest and genuine.   Ryan also has many great moments in the film and together she and Giamatti are natural, tender and touching as a couple who have to deal with things they aren't exactly ready for.  The movie was released earlier this year so I'm kinda thinking both of them, and the film, might find themselves with Oscar Nominations in just a few months.

Alex Shaffer is the teenage runaway and Shaffer actually won the New Jersey State Wrestling Championship last year which makes him more than adequate to play the part.  The fact that this is also his film debut is a bit of a shock as he gives a sincere and natural portrayal of a somewhat troubled and lost youth.  The film also stars Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor as Giamatti's former high school wrestling buddy and the assistant coach with Nina Arianda as Giamatti's secretary.  All three of them provide some nice comic moments in the film with Cannavale a stand out.  In fact, though the movie is more on the dramatic side there are several laugh out loud moments.

Giammati and Ryan
Writer / director Thomas McCarthy has provided an entertaining and heartfelt experience.  I don't want to say much more about this movie as the less you know going in the more I think you'll enjoy it.  Just know that fully fleshed out characters, realistic dialogue and a first rate ensemble cast combine to push this movie over the finish line with gusto.

Highly recommended

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