Win Win

Win Win

Postby CAP » Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:03 pm

Win Win is a modest US indie starring Paul Giamatti (see John Adams) and Amy Ryan (terrific) as Mike and Jacqui Flaherty. He’s a small-town New Jersey lawyer, struggling to make ends meet, and coaching the local high school wrestling team (feebly). He undertakes to become an elderly client’s guardian, in order to pocket a healthy monthly fee, when the court rules the old man is in the early stages of dementia. Mike then puts him in a care home, against the old man’s wishes, but convenient for all around. The old guy supposedly has no nearest of kin – his daughter is untraceable. Except that no sooner is Mike guardian, than a teenage runaway turns up claiming to be the old guy’s grandson. He is. His name is Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer). The kid turns out to be a champion wrestler (Shaffer really is a high school wrestling star) and he ends up staying with the Flaherty’s and then enrolling at the local high school and joining the wrestling team. Shaffer is really impressive as the teenage runaway – and of course his wrestling is pretty authentic. At this stage we move from social commentary on Recession America to feel-good movie…

But of course Alex has a history – and more specifically, a mother who eventually turns up, and wants the guardianship – if only for the fee. It all comes out that Mike has manipulated the guardianship for the fat fee and everyone thinks he’s a rat. So then Mike has to beg everyone’s forgiveness and ends up doing a deal with the daughter whereby she gets the fee, but the old man and Kyle stay in the NJ town, while she goes back to Ohio or somewhere. Kyle is like the teenage son Mike never had, and fits right in with his family. So it looks like a happy ending. Except that now Mike has to acknowledge just how desperate his financial situation is (more shame) and ends up working as a barman at nights to try and make ends meet. This would mean of course that he spends even less time at home and whether a paltry barman’s wages would keep his practice and lifestyle afloat is questionable. But that’s how it ends.

I thought for a sober little indie it turned out to be a bit soft-centred. But the central performances are all charming and although I haven’t seen either of Tom McCarthy’s other films, I’ll look out for them.
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