Stephen Rebello reviews Win Win
Director: Thomas McCarthy
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
If you’re out for bang bang, quip quip, shoot shoot, you might want to stay clear of Win Win. Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent) from a story he concocted with his old friend and high school wrestling partner Joe Tiboni, Paul Giamatti stars as a part-time high school wrestling coach and small-time New Jersey lawyer and family man who, like so many Americans, has hit a rough patch financially. A good guy who makes a terrible decision for the right reasons, our hero decides to become the paid guardian of a wealthy elderly client (Burt Young) who is losing his mental facilities but wants to remain in his own home; Giamatti collects the money but puts him in an assisted living facility.
Up pops the elderly man’s runaway 16-year-old grandson (Alex Shaffer), an ace wrestler, and changes begin to happen for Giamatti, his no nonsense wife (Amy Ryan) and loopy, lonely, newly-divorced friend (Bobby Cannavale). Its plotting may get a bit overheated at times, but Win Win is funny, perfectly observed, touching, beautifully acted and almost novel-like in detail and mood. The movie also contains Giamatti’s very best work since Sideways and Cannavale hits it out of the park every time. In a still young movie year, Win Win is already on the mat as one of the best.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.