Solid Performances Make “Win Win” a Half Win

By Alex Vidiani
Elm Staff Writer

“Win Win” is a comedy-drama from the mind of Thomas McCarthy, and stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a family man, staple of the community, and part-time high school wrestling coach, who just falls short of being happy. His private practice is failing, so on a whim, and at the prospect of receiving a questionably legal sum of money each month, he takes guardianship of one of his elderly clients. And it just so happens that this client has a grandson who shows up on the doorstep just as Mike drives by. Soon, and on another whim, Kyle (Alex Shaffer) is living as part of their family. Until, that is, his conniving, somewhat of a low-life mother shows up at random and threatens both Kyle’s happiness and Mike’s monthly (again questionably legal) pension, and thus his reputation. But Mike isn’t a bad guy, he just wants to help his family, and Kyle is actually a state-ranked wrestler. A very good state-ranked wrestler. It all ties in, don’t worry.

This movie explores cause and effect, and questions what should really be taken as important in life. It seems that everybody has to do what they have to do, for better or worse, and accept the consequences. The film isn’t all drama though, it should be noted. There are some genuinely funny parts, and all are well-written, albeit somewhat silly at times. Helping along with the comedic aspect are seasoned actors Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor, who are either hilariously blunt or face-palm-ingly tactless, and work well together in their various scenes. On another note, though wrestling may not be everyone’s preferred sport to watch, the wrestling scenes are handled quite well, and the moves are actually all done by Alex Shaffer, who is himself an impressively-ranked wrestler.

Back to the protagonist of the story, Paul Giamatti does a good interpretation of the down-on-his-luck man who finds a way to turn things around, and he delivers some pretty solid performances in some of the more emotional scenes. With the help of Amy Ryan, who plays his wife Jackie, they both create the sense of a real, working-class, believable family. However, when it comes to the storyline, my one gripe would be that the ending was a little too casual, leaving too little room to expand on the events that occurred just beforehand. Of course, some things are obvious, and the others can just be left to your own imagination, but it would’ve been nicer if they had given a few more minutes of screen time to elaborate. But that’s it, no other complaints. It really was a funny, fulfilling movie, and by all means worth a look.

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