Win Win is the latest film directed and written by Thomas McCarthy, who has previously directed ‘The Visitor‘ and ‘The Station Agent‘. He is also an actor, and has starred in films such as; ‘Syriana‘, ‘Fair Game’, ‘Good Night, and Good Luck‘, ‘Meet the Parents‘ and ’2012′. He received a nomination for an Academy Award for ‘Best Original Screenplay‘ in 2010 for Disney‘s ‘Up‘.
Win Win is an American sports comedy based on a story written by Joe Tiboni. It starts off with Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), an attorney from New Jersey who struggles to keep his life afloat and his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) and two daughters happy. His current case is Leo Poplar, an old client who is in the early stages of dementia, and wishes to stay in his own home instead of being moved to an elderly home where he will be cared for. The commission payment for looking after Poplar is $1,500 every month, so Mike sees an opportunity to bag some cash by opting to be Poplar’s legal guardian and look after him whilst respecting his request to stay at home.
So Mike wins the case against the state, takes Leo Poplar under his wing, but doesn’t look after him in Poplars own house, instead he places him in an elderly home whilst still insincerely banking the cash every month. One day after Mike and his family are driving back from church, they spot a boy sat on the doorstep of Leo Poplar’s house, Mike gets out of the car to find out who he is. His name is Kyle (Alex Shaffer) and he’s Leo grandson wanting to come visit for a few days, travelled all the way from Ohio. Mike explains that Leo is in a care home quite a distance away, and offer him to stay the night.
16 year old Bleach blonde Kyle ends up staying with them at their home for a few days, they find out that he’s run away from home and that his mother is in drug rehabilitation. Jackie lets her feelings known to Mike by threatening to drive over there and punch Kyle’s mother and her boyfriend.
Mike also a wrestling coach on the side, trains the New Providence High School with co-coach Vigman (Jeffrey Tambor), but his team are on a losing streak. Kyle asks to be brought along to one of the training sessions one day, and turns out that Kyle might just be the champion they need.
Mike, Jackie and their family form a close bond with Kyle over time, and everything is going great, until Kyle’s mum Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) shows up unannounced at Leo’s home whilst Kyle is visiting. Broke and fresh out of rehab, Cindy threatens to ruin everything.
It’s an absolutely fantastic film, one that I enjoyed thoroughly throughout, I literally couldn’t avert my eyes. All of the characters felt real, without pretention, likeable and all contributed greatly to the story. The acting was spot on, Giamatti is slowly becoming one of my favourite actors. The script is brilliant, very humane and funny. Thomas McCarthy has done a marvellous job, and it won’t surprise me if this films gets a few nods at next years Academy Awards. This film is a testament to a simple story made fantastic by brilliant acting, a large sense of humanity, a formidable script, fleshed out characters and a touch of humour. There was this one moment that really stuck out for me in particular, and that was when Mike asks Kyle “What does it feel like to be as good as you are?”, Kyle responds ‘It feels like your in control, of everything”. There was just a great sense of irony from that statement, Mike feeling like he’s in control of nothing in the beginning, and crossing paths with a stranger who turns out to be one of the best things that happened to him.
The film ended on a perfect note and gave me a big smile on my face. ‘Win Win’ really is a win.