Win Win

(2010)

Genres: Comedy

Review: Win Win

Transcript for Review: Win Win

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
Thanks Roger.  Our next movie is "Win-Win." It comes from Tom McCarthy, an actor-turned-writer/director who previously made the small but excellent films "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor." He has a real knack for creating fleshed-out characters, full of nuances and flaws, and this time is no exception. "Win Win" stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a small-town lawyer and part-time high school wrestling coach. When he agrees to serve as the guardian for an elderly client, played by Burt Young, he also ends up taking on the man's grandson, Kyle, played by Alex Shaffer.

Clip 1 -- Eminem

CHRISTY:
That's Amy Ryan as Mike's wife and the mother of their two kids, and she's part of a terrific supporting cast that includes Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor. Mike thinks he's got a good little deal going -- he's placed the old man in a nursing home, but still pockets the money for caring for him. At the same time, he's found a star athlete in Kyle, who's livened up the team. But all his schemes eventually catch up with him.

Clip 2 -- Heart attack

CHRISTY:
"Win Win" is about the choices people make, and the way they justify their actions. It never judges Mike, but rather lets him enjoy one small victory after another -- and make one mistake after another. And Giamatti, as always, beautifully conveys every part of his character's complexity.

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
Paul Giamatti’s schlubby-schtick does not make a movie.  This film is toothless.

CHRISTY:
That is so weird.  Where are you getting that from?

IGNATIY:
First of all his performance is not enough to rescue this material.  There isn’t that much to it.  We’re talking about a man who’s secretly siphoning off money.  There’s all of these darker elements and any time that they might have an impact or they could almost serve as social critique.  You know, all of that is thrown away so we can feel better about ourselves.

CHRISTY:
No, there are mistakes and there are consequences and there is no predictability here at all to what’s going to happen to him.  You know he’s going to get caught and this could not go on forever, but the way it plays out, I never knew where it was going from one point to the next because the characters are so believable and what they do and who they are always make sense to me.

IGNATIY:
I don’t think they’re believable at all.

CHRISTY:
No?

IGNATIY:
They seem to be like screenplay characters.  This seems like a film that what written by a person who knows screenwriting…

CHRISTY:
They’re too quirky, it that it?

IGNATIY:
Yeah, you know you can smell the work-shopping, the foreshadowing, the details that are indicative of character and setting.  It just feels too crafted and it seems like the craft both on the part of the actors and on the part of the screenwriter/director overpowers any kind of impact this film could possibly have.  I just ends up sagging.

CHRISTY:
So what should have happened?  What would horrible, dark thing should have befallen Paul Giamatti that did not happen?  Where would you go with this?

IGNATIY:
I would go significantly darker.  I mean, he could be shamed by his community, but as an example, Giamatti is only stealing a small sum of money.  It’s only $1,500…

CHRISTY:
That’s why he justifies it to himself, that’s not massive theft, just a little bit of money, that’s all it is.

IGNATIY:
But we never even know what his actual financial situation is and I feel like if this film was more concrete in those details, it could be a significantly better movie.

CHRISTY:
He’s got a family to support, the boiler in the basement is gonna blow any second…I totally bought it, it’s…

IGNATIY:
The boiler is symbolic, by the way.

CHRISTY:
As a metaphor for life, is that what it is?

IGNATIY:
For his own situation.  Yeah, there…screenwriting 101.