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WIN WIN (review)

Produced by Lisa Maria Falcone, Michael London, Mary Jane Skalski
Screenplay by Thomas McCarthy
Based on a story by Thomas McCarthy and Joe Tiboni
Directed by Thomas McCarthy
Starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer, Bobby Cannavale, 
Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey, Margo Martindale, 
David W. Thompson, Nina Arianda

Win Win is a film about how good people can sometimes make bad decisions.

Paul Giamatti plays attorney Mike Flaherty, a married father of two and part time high school wrestling coach of a losing team, who is suffering from panic attacks and a failing law practice.  An opportunity to make some money by becoming the legal guardian of a client in the early stages of dementia is an easy fix, though morally questionable.  Not soon after having been moved to an assisted living facility against his wishes, Leo’s long lost grandson, Kyle Timmons arrives on his doorstep.  Kyle turns out to be a championship wrestler and suddenly Mike’s poor judgement becomes a web of half truths that complicate every aspect of his life.

This is, without a doubt, one of the best films to have been release in some time.  Writer/director Tom McCarthy is a gifted filmmaker and has brought out some tremendous performances from a talented cast.

McCarthy’s film examines the meaning of the concept of family, as both the impetus for Mike’s motivation and as a haven for several characters who become part of his expansive brood.  There isn’t a single character or performance in the film that isn’t fully constructed, and results in a fully realized world on screen.

The entire cast is outstanding, beginning with Giamatti, who gives a phenomenal performance.  Amy Ryan is equally fantastic as his wife, Jackie.  Other supporting performances of note include McCarthy regular Bobby Cannavale as Mike’s friend and confidant, Terry, Jeffrey Tambor as his assistant coach Vig, Burt Young as Leo, Melanie Lynskey as Leo’s estranged daughter Cindy, and Margo Martindale as her attorney, Eleanor.

The real find is in actor Alex Shaffer who plays Kyle.  A real championship wrestler turned actor, Shaffer delivers a fantastic first time performance and has a unique delivery that stays with you long after the movie ends. 

Win Win is the kind of film that every studio should be making and that audiences should be embracing.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, but in the case of this film it does and you should seek it out.

Win Win lives up to it’s title.  And that’s pretty damned impressive.

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