Win Win Sept 17, 2011 21:31:52 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Sept 17, 2011 21:31:52 GMT -5
Paul Giamatti coaches Alex Shaffer in Win Win.
So many films have been lost in the shuffle this year, and have gone on to be unrecognized and already forgotten gems. The Art of Getting By and Cedar Rapids just to name a few. Win Win was a sleeper hit, even with its great supporting cast, electrifying script, and some of the most surreal filmmaking for a drama in recent memory.
Win Win almost reminds me of a possible HBO miniseries condensed into a film. This seems like it could make a decent Television show for a premium cable network. It tells the story of lawyer and part-time wrestling coach named Mike (Giamatti) who is put in charge of caring for an elderly man named Leo (Young). So he doesn't have to do much work at all, Mike puts Leo in a nursing home, but continues to collect the $1,500 check every month for doing work he doesn't do.
Mike's wrestling team is pitiful, until he starts caring for Leo's nephew named Kyle (Shaffer), a troubled teen who finds his niche when he begins wrestling for Mike's team. Kyle's homelife is found later to be dreadful, and begins to shake up Mike's simple life as he tries to manage him while care for his loving wife and two kids.
The supporting cast of Win Win is pitch-perfect packed with character actors like Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor. Every character is played in a non-perfect manor, because the screenplay gives them believable flaws they can't work around. Instead of making them all good human beings, the film gives them baggage that they must work with. It shows the realism behind life, and not the sugarcoated film look we've been getting for quite sometime.
There are flaws, sadly. For one, we never know why Mike steals the check every month because we don't know his financial situation. If that could've been elaborated, it would've spawned a whole new breed of conflicts for the film to work on rather than just make Mike look cold-hearted and scummy. Not to mention, some things in the film are symbolic, like the boiler room, that are never mentioned again and are just the subject of creative screenwriting. It doesn't really transfer to film well, and it's never referred back to for future reference.
Alex Schaffer reminds me of the real Lucas Cruinkshank, who is famous for the "FRED" character on Youtube. He resembles Cruinkshank, and even speaks like him without the pitch effect on his voice. From what I've heard, his hair was bleached for the film to make him look even more troubled and a stand-out. Shaffer is perfect in the film, and probably the strongest point. He wrestles better than he acts, but at least we have a multi-talented child-actor who has developed skills early on. Being this is his first film, and he's already very talented for his age, it can only get better - hopefully.
Win Win is seldom, much like Director Thomas McCarthy's previous works. He has a sort of art with the camera, as well as with a pen and paper. He creates real characters, and none of a cliche breed. There are no major twists and turns in the plot, but some caught me off guard surprisingly. Win Win isn't perfect, but it's above-average, which I'll take over cliche and fair any day.
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Alex Schaffer, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, and Amy Ryan. Directed by: Thomas McCarthy.