Win Win (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Thomas McCarthy|
|Produced by||Mary Jane Skalski
Lisa Maria Falcone
|Screenplay by||Thomas McCarthy|
|Story by||Thomas McCarthy
|Editing by||Tom McArdle|
|Studio||Fox Searchlight Pictures
Next Wednesday Productions
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Win Win is a 2011 comedy-drama film directed and written by Thomas McCarthy, based on a story of McCarthy and Joe Tiboni. The main characters are played by Paul Giamatti, Alex Shaffer, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young and Melanie Lynskey.
Small-town New Providence, New Jersey attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) moonlights as a wrestling coach and struggles to keep his practice solvent, while shielding his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) and their two young girls, Abby and Stella, from the extent of the problem. When his court-appointed client, Leo Poplar (Burt Young), who is suffering from early dementia, turns out to have no locatable relatives, he persuades a judge to appoint him as guardian, for which he will receive a stipend of $1,500 per month.
When Leo's troubled teenage grandson, Kyle (Alex Shaffer) shows up from Columbus, Ohio looking to live with him, Mike and Jackie let him stay with them, as Mike has moved Leo to a senior care facility. Kyle tries to break into Leo's old house, and when Mike and Jackie question him about it, he reveals his troubled family life. His mom is in rehab, she lives with her boyfriend, and he doesn't want to go back. After Kyle sits in on practice, they discover that he is a talented wrestler, and enroll him at Mike's high school, where he can resume his education and wrestle on Mike's losing team, helping to make them viable contenders in their league.
This "everyone benefits" setup is disrupted when Kyle's mother Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) shows up, fresh out of rehab. Cindy attempts to gain custody of her father and her son, and with them her father's substantial estate. When Kyle learns that Mike had originally promised to keep Leo in his home but has instead moved him to a nursing home, the boy rejects him as a money-seeking opportunist no better than his mother. Realizing the mistake of his earlier actions, and seeking instead to do what's best for both Leo and Kyle, Mike offers Cindy the monthly stipend in exchange for leaving them in his care. He and Jackie take Kyle into their home permanently and return Leo to his, with Mike instead taking a bartending job to address his financial problems.
- Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty
- Alex Shaffer as Kyle Timmons
- Amy Ryan as Jackie Flaherty
- Bobby Cannavale as Terry Delfino
- Jeffrey Tambor as Stephen Vigman
- Burt Young as Leo Poplar
- Melanie Lynskey as Cindy
- Margo Martindale as Eleanor
- David W. Thompson as Stemler
- Mike Diliello as Jimmy Reed
- Nina Arianda as Shelley
- Marcia Haufrecht as Gina Flaherty
- Sharon Wilkins as Judge Lee
Critical reception 
The film was rated 90% "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes in March 2011, and, based on 155 reviews, held a 94% favorable rating in January 2012. Its critical consensus states: "Rich, wonderful characters and strong performances populate Win Win, with writer/director Thomas McCarthy continuing to emerge as a great American humanist."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, calling the film a "gem, hilarious and heartfelt with a tough core that repels all things sappy", and "just about perfect." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 out of 4 stars, writing "You have a funny situation, and there's some truth in it and unexpected characters, well-acted, and you may not have a great film but you enjoy watching it." Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave it 3 out of 4 stars, writing "[Giamatti] delivers a marvel of a performance—all the more so because we forget that he is performing." He concluded "Win Win doesn't quite hit the high notes of grace and revelation that The Station Agent and The Visitor achieved, but McCarthy and his able cast pull off a similar mix of humor and pathos, smiles and angst." Daniel Sarath from online blog New In Cinema gave it 4/5, stating "Win Win is visual evidence that a film doesn't have to be pushing boundaries or walking in uncharted territory to stand out from the crowd. As long as you have a talented writer, director and a staggering ensemble of actors, even the most simple of stories can become memorable." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe wrote "Win Win is the most radical movie yet from writer-director Tom McCarthy, and it may be one of the more daring movies to be recently released in America."
Brooklyn-based indie rock band The National contributed an original song to the movie's soundtrack. The song is titled "Think You Can Wait" and features vocals from fellow Brooklyn musician Sharon Van Etten.
- "Win Win". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
- Peter Travers. "Win Win". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
- Roger Ebert. "Win Win". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Steven Rea. "Giamatti a marvel as lawyer in ethical crisis". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
- "Movie Review: WIN WIN". napiersnews.com. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
- Ty Burr. "Win Win". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 19, 2011.