Win Win

As I promised in my review for Barney’s Version, I went out to see Win Win with my new found interest in Paul Giamatti.  He didn’t disappoint me either, supported by a network of rich characters.  Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent and The Visitor set me up for something spectacular.  Was it spectacular?  No, but it was entirely enjoyable and left me satisfied with a good concoction of humor and warm fuzzies.  It’s important to know that Win Win didn’t abandon common sense in order to contrive its feel-good moments.  It felt honest.  Tom McCarthy has demonstrated the ability to write in enough complexity and flaws into his characters to create sincere connections amongst his characters that don’t require cheap happy endings for warm fuzzies.

Jackie (Amy Ryan) is the wife of Mike (Paul Giamatti) and mother of two girls.  Rather than simply a sounding board to the central male protagonist, Jackie is a separate force of spunk and integrity.  Leo (Burt Young) and Terry (Bobby Cannavale) are delightful side characters that offer lots of comic relief in the somber story of ordinary folk.  Kyle (Alex Shaffer), a troubled teenage boy, falls into the hands of Mike, a struggling small town attorney and an even worse-off high school wrestling coach.  As anticipated by the trailers, Kyle turns out to be a remarkable wrestler.  As exciting as wrestling can be (I have no idea what that feels like), this movie isn’t the one to showcase its awesomeness.  It’s not really about the sport, or the game.  In other words, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a heroic showdown of squirming prepubescent boys.  Overall, a pretty good film.  Do you need to go see it?  No, but if you’ve got a few dollars around and would like to treat yourself for a couple hours, go on ahead… $7

Recommendations from Yolkie:

The Station Agent
The Fighter

Barney’s Version

An epic character piece on a whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking, droopy-eyed curmudgeon we frequently see played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti is an actor that has won the hearts of many, he hadn’t won my affection until I saw this movie.  Somehow, even though it was pretty much the same role I’d seen him in before, he convinced me that he’s definitely worth following.  In fact, I’m really looking forward to Win Win.  Stellar supporting roles played by Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike.

What truly won me over was the strong female lead portrayed by Rosamund Pike.  One of the best female characters I’ve seen in years.  Wise, soulful, strong, and kind – and much too good for Barney.  All three wives are unbelievably out of his league, yet it can somehow works.  Good writing is rarely given to female roles.  Here, Pike’s character offered the most insightful and touching dialogue on the screen.

There isn’t too much of plot here.  We follow Barney’s three marriages.  Still, there are elements of suspense as an underlying murder mystery finds it’s way into the narrative.  And honestly, the colorful characters are complicated and endearing enough to hold ground for the film…$8

Yolkie’s recommendations:
Little Children
The Station Agent

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