Sunday, April 17, 2011

Win Win review

Tom McCarthy isn't the type of filmmaker who will blow you away with his films. What are good about them however is that they are solid on all levels, contain great acting, and they're consistently watchable. The best of his three films probably is his first film, The Metro Station, which narrowly missed my top 2000s list. He followed that film with The Visitor which contains a great performance from character actor Richard Jenkins (who wound up getting an Oscar nod). His latest film, Win Win, is perhaps his most accessible and crowd-pleasing of the bunch.

You see the trailer and you think you know how the film will play out, but the magic of McCarthy's films is its realism. Paul Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty in the film. Mike is a lawyer with a firm that is struggling, a coach of a terrible wrestling team, and he's been suffering with the stress of running out of money. He's anchored by his wife, Jackie, played beautifully by Amy Ryan who plays the New Jersey mother quite convincingly (with a very nuanced and down-to-earth performance).

Through a series of events of which I do not care to describe because I'm tired, Mike decides to take care of an old man whose estranged grandson Kyle unexpectedly shows up into Mike's life. Kyle, who turns out to be quite a gifted wrestler, is also a troubled teen who has problems with his neglectful mother (probably because she's neglectful). Mike and his family decide to take him in and Kyle suddenly has a newfound focus in wrestling.

Win Win manages to be heartwarming yet realistic. It's funny in its own down-to-earth way and has great performances across the board. I wouldn't say there is anything about Win Win that will blow you away but if you like a good domestic comedy-drama, then you will like this film. One of the better films of the early year so far, hopefully Fox Searchlight gives it an actual wide release before its forgotten amongst all the summer blockbusters.

Rating: 8/10

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