Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
I enjoy Royal Tenenbaums, Juno, and Little Miss Sunshine because they're about eccentric, witty people whose foibles are made less than tragic, their dialogue hypnotizes, and their personas seduce. Then comes Win Win, not as ingenious or innovative as those films but a winner in its own right because it embellishes little while it stays real and lovingly humane.
A little like my family and other interesting neighbors, Win Win has love to spare. Mike (Paul Giamatti) has a failing law practice, moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, and now becomes custodian of elderly Leo Poplar (Burt Young) because Mike needs the $1500 a month. Soon complication arrives with bleached blond Kyle (Alex Schaffer), Leo's grandson, who wants to live with Leo.
Mike is thus faced with more complications than he bargained for in the caretaker role, yet a bit of light shines through as he deals with the taciturn Kyle, who happens to be an excellent wrestler. Mike's relationship with his wife, Jackie (Amy Ryan), is rich with respect between both and patience on her part as she helps Mike through his ethical challenge and his guidance of Kyle.
Nothing comes easy in this dramedy, as it doesn't for most of us, but the beauty of this film is that it slowly works out all the kinks of life in a slowly distributed narrative with triumphs and setbacks that seem to come naturally. Because the central characters are loving and largely benign, the film has an easy, unforced quality.
Terry (Bobby Cannavale) is especially likable as Mike's old wrestling buddy, recently split from his wife, and full of energy to channel as assistant coach helping with their new wrestling star. Cannavale brings an easy charm to the film; he's an enjoyable foil for the schlubby, depressive Giammatti.
Although a few swear words, mostly "f bombs," are dotted in the dialogue, it is essentially a family where the characters live to love.
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