Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sundance Review: Win Win warms the heart.

Win Win was a pleasant surprise for me. Funny and bleak, it was a film I really didn’t want to go see at Sundance since it already had distribution, but it was the only one that fit in with my volunteer schedule for the day. Right off the bat I found I was chuckling to myself and fully involved with the characters within the first few minutes of the movie. That’s some dang good writing to make Paul Giamatti who plays the patriarch wrestling coach of the film seem relatable. When has Paul Giamatti ever been relatable in any of his quirky movies? Here, he makes a decision to take over the care of one of his clients, and ends up getting the clients grandson whom at first seems like a burden.

Fortunately, that was just the beginning of the good surprises, which included Amy Ryan as Paul’s scene stealing wife and proved her range as a severely different person than Holly on The Office. The Grandson (Alex Shaffer) bugged me at first but gradually became the character with which I empathized with the most. As a champion wrestler, he quickly proves his worth to Paul’s character that helps them turn their dismal high school wrestling season around. It was nice to see a teenage boy who was portrayed as flawed, but ultimately a good, well-meaning child that doesn’t let a sordid past and demons turn him into the rebellious monster we have seen overplayed since Rebel Without a Cause. The supporting proves to add most of the humor and frames the story is a relatable light.

The true strength of the movie is the screenwriting (Thomas McCarthy). There is no despicable villain, only well meaning people who make horrible decisions. The revelatory part of the movie is that the characters have to deal with the consequences. There is no magic formula for fixing their mistakes and sweeping all the loose ends up. Instead, we feel for the characters, their decisions and ultimately, it presents every single one as good-natured. Its rare to find a film that presents so many problems and decisions in a realistic light, but lets the humanity in each character shine thorough. While this may not be the best-directed film ever, or have the necessary gravitas to make it truly transcendent, it did bring a little light and warmth and hope to a snowy, pretentions film festival.

I got to listen to the screenwriters talk about their experiences after the screening. They both wrestled while growing up, but what made the movie was the fact that they took little parts of their lives like getting in shape or boiler problems and put those in the film. It was those small real touches that bring this movie up above common entertainment and make it seem that much more human.

Final Consensus:
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t Bother

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