THE PLOT THUS FAR
A struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach’s chicanery comes back to haunt him when the teenage grandson of the client he’s double-crossed comes into his life.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Suburban lawyer Mike (Paul Giamatti) is struggling with his domestic life. He has two young girls with his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan), but barely enough money to keep his practice open. He even has a panic attack one morning when jogging with his friend Terry (Bobby Cannavale). At work Mike is taking on a case where an elderly man named Leo (Burt Young) is suffering from dementia. Mike is unable to contact Leo’s daughter Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) and it looks as though Leo will be put into care. Mike realises that he can get a commission from the situation, which would help his own family. Before the court makes a ruling, he announces that he will be taking over as Leo’s guardian himself. Knowing that he won’t actually have time to take care of Leo, he leaves him in a nursing home. But turning up on the doorstep of Leo’s old home is Kyle (Alex Shaffer), Leo’s grandson. He’s been separated from his mother and wants to visit his grandfather. Mike lets Kyle stay in his own home and he turns out to be an incredibly relaxed individual. He even helps train with a high school wrestling team, where Mike and his friend Stephen (Jeffrey Tambor) are coaching a group of kids who can’t win a game.
“Win Win” 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 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. The Blu-Ray comes with a music video from The National, featurettes and deleted scenes. The A/V Quality comes with a damn near flawless transfer with an amazing AVC encode. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track makes every inch of the melodrama and wrestling action come to life. However, this is a smaller film that plays on emotion and dramatic integrity than big spectacle. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase as this still remains one of the best films of 2011 thus far.