Friday, April 15, 2011

Win Win - 3 1/2 stars

Paul Giamatti stars as a small town lawyer named Mike Flaherty. His practice is not going so well, and he is having trouble providing for his family. He has a wife (Amy Ryan) and two young girls. On the side, he is a wrestling coach for the local high school. His assistant coach is played by the great Jeffrey Tambor, who does 'sour' and 'bad mood' better than anybody.

One day, he discovers a dishonest way to make some extra money for his family. He represents an old man named Leo Poplar (Burt Young) who is slipping into dimentia. Leo doesn't want to be put into a home, but he can't take care of himself anymore. Mike decides he can declare himself Leo's guardian, make an extra $1,500 a month, and put Leo in a home anyway. He won't be caught because no one can locate any of Leo's family.

Soon enough, Leo's grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) turns up. He needs a place to stay, so Mike lets him live with his family. Lucky for Mike, Kyle just happens to be a great wrestler. This is good because Mike's team sucks. So he gets Kyle to come join the team.

Neither the wrestling nor the stolen money are what drives the story. There are some wrestling scenes, but not enough to make this a wrestling movie. The money he gets from Leo does come up later in the movie, but it doesn't ruin his life. The movie isn't about those things. It's about these characters and how they relate to each other.

Eventually Kyle's junkie mother turns up and things get complicated. But all the characters behave the way real people do. This is not as good a movie as Thomas McCarthy's last (The Visitor), but it is a worthy follow up. This is one of the best movies so far of 2011. Basically, the filmmakers did everything right and nothing wrong.

No comments: