Director: Tom McCarthy
An unexpected gem (for me, at least), Win Win is a comedy drama that manages to captivate the audience as the film goes by. The plot isn't as different as those similar to it (sports, angst-ridden teen who's actually really good at something, financial problems, etc) but what brought this film to stand on its own is the acting that was involved in making the film. Win Win is about a lawyer who also works as a wrestling coach to make ends meet; he is in a financial bind. His practice is not doing so good and he's getting stressed because of it, not to mention his family doesn't know about their financial standing. He saw his way out of a financial turmoil when he signed himself up as the legal guardian of his incapacitated client, earning him $1500 a month. What he didn't expect is that the missing family members would show up at his client's doorstep, first in the form of the client's grandson (who turns out to be his savior on the wrestling team).
Giamatti shows off his acting chops through embodying different personas (lawyer, provider, mentor) without getting one persona mixed with the other. In each situation, he knows how to position himself and does not let the rationality of his other roles get into him. His mistake makes him human. In each role he portrays, he is able to embody them with zest, making him easily identifiable in a scene. He is also aided by Ryan and Cannavale, who portray their roles quite well. Shafter, in his first role, also embodies the angst-ridden teen well. He doesn't blend in with Giamatti's style, nor does he let his fellow actors swallow him. He is not a wallflower, he stands out. He is able to express the writing and provide his own mark on the character. While the movie may not exactly hit a mark, expressive acting and writing did bring this film into the radar of sport comedy-drama.