- James Mottram
- 18 April 2011
Tom McCarthy's sterling comedy/drama starring Paul Giamatti
Like his earlier two films, The Station Agent and The Visitor, Tom McCarthy’s new film Win Win makes no grand statements and is all the better for it. An expertly shaken comedy/drama cocktail, it tells of small-town attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti), who spends most of his spare time coaching his local school’s wrestling team.
When he spies an ethically questionable moneymaking opportunity involving an aged client, it puts him in contact with the man’s troubled teenage grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) – who, it transpires, is a champion wrestler. Before you can say ‘win win’, Kyle’s on the team, finding a new purpose in life and even living with Mike, wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) and their kids. But with the arrival of Kyle’s mother (Melanie Lynskey), fresh out of rehab, trouble soon begins to brew.
The result is a sharply observed film that doesn’t draw its characters as black-and-white cutouts. Rather, it dwells in the morally grey area that makes up real life, pinpointing just what makes human beings fallible. Giamatti is his usual flawless self, both funny and sad at the same time and his relationship with newcomer Shaffer is to be treasured. As for McCarthy, he’s making a habit of making minor gems.
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 20 May.