Sunday, March 27, 2011

Win Win

Writer/Director Tom McCarthy hits the trifecta. It started with "The Station Agent", followed by "The Visitor" and now "Win Win'. He is a master at telling small stories filled with memorable characters and rewarding moments. Not to mention, always finding the perfect cast.

This is the story of Mike Flaherty, a small town lawyer who also coaches the local high school wrestling team. Mike is played by Paul Giamatti, who notches another wonderful performance as a loving but flawed "everyman". Amy Ryan disappears once again into a role as his wife, Jackie, with a perfect New Jersey accent.

As his business falters and needing money, Mike becomes the guardian to one of his elderly clients, played with his usual gruff exterior, by Burt Young. Along with the job comes a monthly stipend that Mike desperately needs. Of course, things don't go quite as planned and get complicated in an unexpected way.

Co-starring as Mike's best friend is Bobby Cannavale, who is the source of much humor especially in his scenes with Mr. Giamatti and Jeffrey Tambor, the assistant wrestling coach. The three of them are truly funny together. Between the "laugh out loud" scenes are some terrific dramatic and tender moments from a rich script delivered by fine actors. I predict big things for Alex Shaffer.

You expect the story to be predictable and it's not. It's low key but thoroughly enjoyable. You can't lose with "Win Win".

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