March 21, 2011

MOVIES: Win Win (Tom McCarthy, 2011)

McCarthy continues his fine record as a writer/director with his third terrific film (following The Station Agent and The Visitor), this one about a group of people coping with various forms of loss.

Paul Giamatti stars as a New Jersey lawyer with a struggling practice. He also coaches the local high-school wrestling team, which isn't doing very well, either. Desperate to make a few extra bucks, he takes on legal guardianship of an elderly client (Burt Young) who's in the early stages of dementia; things get complicated when the old man's grandson (newcomer Alex Shaffer) shows up, a grandson who happens to be a spectacularly good wrestler.

As usual with McCarthy, the casting is superb. In addition to Giamatti and Young, you've got Amy Ryan as Giamatti's wife, Jeffrey Tambor and Bobby Cannavale as his fellow coaches, Melanie Lynskey as the kid's mother, and the always welcome Margo Martindale as a rival attorney. Shaffer is the movie's weakest link, and his flat affect and monotone grate a bit by the time the movie's over, but the rest of the cast carries him very well.

As in McCarthy's other movies, the characters are rich and complicated, and they don't always make the most moral choices. But the writing and performances are so good that they (almost) always have your sympathy, and you have no problem understanding why they've done what they've done.

This is an excellent movie, definitely worth looking for.

No comments: