Win Win (Blu-ray)
When attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti, SIDEWAYS), financially broke but rich with the love of family and friends, assumes the legal responsibility of Leo, a client with dementia (Burt Young, ROCKY, BACK TO SCHOOL), for a short while he believes his money problems are solved. That is, until Kyle, his client’s unknown grandson arrives on the scene complicating things. Mike must carefully balance his family, law practice, high school wrestling coaching gig and new wards, Leo and Kyle, without blowing his monthly paycheck. When Mike learns that Kyle was an all-star wrestler at his former high school he finds himself in a WIN WIN scenario; alleviated financial strain and the chance for his wrestling team to perform.
Let me start by saying that this picture took me by surprise in the best way possible. From big belly laughs to emotional and dramatic moments I connected to and cared for each of the characters in this movie. I love it when a film can pull at my heartstrings and tickle my funny bone! Directed and co-written by Thomas McCarthy (UP, THE VISITOR), I am not surprised that this is a thoughtful picture with heart and humor.
The casting was sublime and I love the humanity the actors gave their characters. Paul Giamatti continually proves himself as an actor and his turn as Mike is no exception. What a performance! The scene before Kyle enters the wrestling ring and Mike reminds him that he is in control of what happens in the ring… wow. The emotion and spirit behind the words spoken are so powerful. With secrets and stretching truths you cannot help but worry about Mike compromising his career for some extra cash. I love the range Amy Ryan has as an actress. First despising her character in GONE BABY GONE, laughing with her as Michael Scott’s love interest in THE OFFICE and now loving her as the level-headed mother of two who unwillingly lets Kyle stay in their home, I cannot get enough Amy Ryan.
Two other characters that added the perfect amount of humor were Stephen Vigman (Jeffrey Tambor, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) and Terry Delfino (Bobby Cannavale) as co-wrestling coaches. In the mix of serious situations, they had me crying with laughter. Their respective relationships with Mike are great, but I really like the friction between them as well. The three played off of one another creating some really fantastic on-screen moments.
Melanie Lynskey as Kyle’s absent and repeat-rehab mother was a bit of a hard sell to me. For some reason, I pictured Kyle’s mother to be a bit rougher looking and acting. Even though Kyle (for the most part) is even tempered and cool, I thought his mom should have been a bit more washed up from all of the descriptions we hear before actually meeting her. Looks aside, Melanie did a decent job.
Lastly, newcomer Alex Shaffer as monosyllable Kyle was a fun change of pace. It’s hard to know if Shaffer was being himself, a teen without much to say to adults or if this was some great acting. His outbursts of anger were believable and understandable.
As you can tell from my glowing review, I am a fan of WIN WIN. This picture will definitely be in my top ten for 2011 and I look forward to my next viewing of this great movie.
Video (Widescreen 1.85:1): With all the great colors of high school and fall, the picture is bright & crisp.
Audio (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): Audio was perfect for this dialogue filled film.
Deleted Scenes (1:54):Two deleted scenes: Mike Meets with Mrs. Tedesco, Family and Leo Drive to Courthouse. Both scenes are short and were wisely cut.
Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni Discuss WIN WIN (6:29): Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy and co-writer Joe Tiboni discuss the writing and creating of the characters within this movie that is full of humor and heart.
David Thompson at Sundance 2011 (2:27): Thompson, the actor who plays Stemler in WIN WIN takes us on a tour of Sundance. Not sure why this was necessary to add as a Blu-ray special feature.
In Conversation with Tom McCarthy and Paul Giamatti at Sundance 2011 (2:26): We learn that director McCarthy and actor Giamatti have a long standing friendship and they discuss Paul’s character and the flick.
Family (2:24): A look at all of the various forms of family within this movie. McCarthy, GIamatti, Ryan, and others provide feedback on the subject.
“Think You Can Wait” Music Video by The National (4:35)