Win Win

Paul Giamatti gets his best role since ‘Sideways’ in this cute indie flick

Win Win

© 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Everest Entertainment, LLC and Dune Entertainment III LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Director: Thomas McCarthy
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor
Time Out rating:

No actor does ennobled schnook better than Paul Giamatti. Watching him play Mike, a suburban New Jersey lawyer and family man with high aspirations (but shoulders that say otherwise), is its own kind of rich pleasure. This is his best role since Sideways; whether he's down on his knees trying to unclog his modest office's toilet, sparring with his similarly feisty wife, Jackie (the ever-wonderful Amy Ryan), or coaching the local high-school wrestling team to non-mediocrity, Mike bears the weight of real-world anxiety. He's a character I'd happily return to, one almost novelistic in its complexity.

What a heartbreaker, then, when Win Win becomes indie-film cute even as its characters remain recognisably flesh and blood. Seeing after the estate of a demented, wealthy client (a bit of shady legal ethics, that), Mike is suddenly thrown together with the man's troubled grandson, a bleach-blond, tattooed loner named Kyle (Alex Shaffer, ably cast in the Paul Dano part). Wouldn't you know it, but Kyle has wrestling greatness in his grasp; he's even a former champ. No matter how predictable his arc is, writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent) never loses sight of the difficulties of cash flow and making one's weekly nut. You'll want to give his movie – and his secret weapon, the lovably neurotic Bobby Cannavale, as a recent divorcé hoping to co-coach the team – a pass for sweetness.

Win Win opens at Cinem@rt Shinjuku on August 18

By Joshua Rothkopf
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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