Synopsis: A struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach’s chicanery comes back to haunt him when the teenage grandson of the client he’s double-crossed comes into his life
Thomas McCarthy is somewhat of a modern renaissance man going about his business in a very quiet yet efficient way. With nearly 60 credits to his name he is one of those “oh it’s that guy from that thing” type of actors. He is also an accomplished indie director (The Station Agent) and Academy Award winning writer (Up). And while Win Win doesn’t quite meet either of those for quality, it is nonetheless an incredibly sweet and at times laugh out loud indie movie centred around the kind of lovable loser Paul Giamatti was born to play.
When struggling small town lawyer Mike Flaherty (Giamatti) tries to make a little extra money by placing his client Leo (Burt Young) in a local home and cashing the carer’s cheque he doesn’t count on Leo’s estranged, troubled runaway grandson Kyle turning up looking for a place to live. Taking him in whilst trying to locate the boy’s mother (Melanie Lynskey) it quickly becomes evident that Kyle is a former high school wrestling protege and possibly the ticket for turning around Flaherty’s ailing high school wrestling team.
McCarthy’s script and direction evokes a lot of the humour and pathos that was evident in his breakout piece The Station Agent. He also gets another fantastic turn from the criminally underrated Bobby Cannervale as Mike’s long term friend and the Ying to his Yang. Relative newcomer, and former New Jersey champion high school wrestler, Alex Schaffer, does well with the quietly brooding Kyle but his performance is often lifted by the highly talented ensemble cast rounded off by Amy Ryan as Mike’s long suffering wife and Jeffery Tambor doing what only Jeffery Tambor can do as Mike’s coaching partner.
Conclusion: Sweet if never particularly surprising ensemble indie comedy lifted above average by some perfectly struck comedy moments and consistent performances all around
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Alex Shaffer, Melanie Lynskey