MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★
Win Win is an understated and perfectly likable film, without anything particularly remarkable. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy, but doesn’t punch quite hard enough to be overtly dramatic. That being said, there’s nothing remotely wrong with it and it’s a perfectly watchable little film.
Starring Paul Giamatti, Win Win delves into the family of Mike Flaherty, a struggling lawyer moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach trying to support his family. Flaherty stumbles upon a bit of a sympathetic swindle in which he becomes the guardian for one of his wealthy, elderly clients in order to earn a few bob. One thing leads to another and Flaherty finds himself trying to bring moody teenager and promising young wrestler, Kyle (played by newcomer Alex Shaffer) back onto the straight and narrow, despite domestic dispute and the consequences of Flaherty’s little scam catching up with him.
It’s a coming of age story from one angle, and a family drama from another. It’s a story about relationships and a young man trying to find his place in the world. Win Win is certainly comparable to something like Little Miss Sunshine. It’s indie-spirited, somber, but sporadically amusing. There’s a cast which fit nicely as a family unit, with Giamatti and Amy Ryan anchoring the film nicely as husband and wife. The film feels ‘feel good’ without being overtly soppy. It’s enjoyable without being engrossing, although that may not have been helped by the stupid, fat people next to me who decided to talk and eat popcorn throughout.
This is not popcorn fodder or ‘in your face’ hilarious and it might be difficult for it to really find its niche and pigeonhole, but it’s nicely made, slowly paced and character driven.
Win Win is out on 20 May in the UK and already released in the US. Certificate 15 (UK). Running time: 106 minutes.
Review by David Rank