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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Win Win is a winner and Paul Giamatti is a master. Win Win, directed by Tom McCarthy of The Station Agent and The Visitor fame, does not hurry along. Instead you are given time to get to know the characters. Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, an average man who finds himself struggling economically with a failing legal practice. Trying to keep his head about water, he takes on the difficult task of coaching the local high school wrestling team. He is trying his best, but neither the team nor his finances are getting better. Unethically, he takes on the guardianship of an elderly, but rich client, Leo, in order to receive a monthly stipend. Without family to care for Leo, Giamatti sells this idea to the judge. Enters Kyle, Leo’s grandson, and everything changes. Alex Schaffer as Kyle is new to acting but there is great promise. He exudes Eminem broodiness. An actual high-school wrestling champ in real life, he is convincing as a disillusioned and troubled 16 year old running away for his abusive mother. Everyone loves a winner and everyone loves Kyle once they know what he can do. The ensemble cast of Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, and Bobby Carnavale lend spunk, empathy and humour to the film.

In the world of Hollywood glitz and glamour, how can a short, double chinned, pudgy man with slopping shoulders be so appealing? Giamatti has talent and skill to make you love him.

This movie could be about how loss makes you do things you cannot defend and ultimately regret, but to me it was just about average people, living average lives trying to do the best they can. Yes, you can find fault with this film, but somehow it just draws you in and you stay there. I found myself smiling all the way to the car. See it or borrow it from the library when it’s on DVD.

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