Win Win (film)

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Win Win
Win Win Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Thomas McCarthy
Produced by Mary Jane Skalski
Michael London
Lisa Maria Falcone
Thomas McCarthy
Screenplay by Thomas McCarthy
Story by Thomas McCarthy
Joe Tiboni
Starring Paul Giamatti
Alex Shaffer
Amy Ryan
Bobby Cannavale
Cinematography Oliver Borkelberg
Edited by Tom McArdle
Production
  company
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Everest Entertainment
Groundswell Productions
Next Wednesday Productions
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s)
  • January 21, 2011 (2011-01-21) (Sundance)
  • March 18, 2011 (2011-03-18) (United States)
Running time 106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $11,869,791[1]

Win Win is a 2011 comedy-drama film directed and written by Thomas McCarthy, based on a story by 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.

Plot[edit]

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. Mike, however, has no intention to take care of Leo but leaves him at the elderly home while he continues to get paid for guardianship.

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. Upon hearing this, Jackie refuses to allow Kyle to go back home and lets him stay in their household. 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. However, Mike explains to Cindy and her lawyer that Leo had disinherited her from his will which caused her to become furious. All is well for a few days until Cindy calls Kyle to meet up with her where she explains that her lawyer found court documents that Mike is supposed to keep Leo at home and not at the elderly home. This ends with a violent confrontation and Kyle running away.

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.

Cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[2]

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."[3] 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."[4] 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."[5] 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."[6] 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."[7]

Soundtrack[edit]

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.[8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]