I first saw Paul Giamatti, as far as I recall, in the wonderful film about cartoonist Harvey Pekar called American Splendor. In that movie, he played a grumpy file clerk turned cartoonist obsessed with jazz and comics who learns to love some other people as much as he loves jazz and comics.
In Win Win he also plays someone who learns to love a bit more, but in this case, he’s not a grumpy Harvey Pekar, but a lawyer in New Jersey. Giamatti plays Mike, who lives with his wife and two young daughters. His legal work is not what it should be, and he and his law partner do everything they can (including ignoring a banging furnace) to cut costs to stay in business. In a moment of weakness during a hearing with a judge, he does something that could cost him dearly later on. This leads to his encounter with Kyle, a semi-homeless teen from Ohio in need of some direction and care, who is related to one of Mike’s clients. Kyle also happens to be a great wrestler and Mike is a wrestling coach at the local high school.
But before you think this is another feel good sports movie, stop yourself. This is a movie with a real heart that does feature sports, but it goes in a different direction than you might expect, which is one reason I liked it so much. Perhaps it’s too obvious to say that wrestling is an apt metaphor for most people’s lives (remember Jacob?), but whatever the case, this is a wonderfully low-key movie about people learning to expand the goodness that’s already in their hearts. (Rated R for language)
Posted by: David