Seeing a film this week? Win win ...

Fareed Athman reviews the new Paul Giamatti film 'Win Win'

by Bernadette Fallon

Modern independent films are known for the care taken in their production, the quality of acting involved and the resulting sense of realism. These films are the closest audiences get to watching what feels like real life, instead of the fantasy worlds conjured by mainstream cinema, and for that, they are often the most gripping, and, in many cases, heart-warming experiences.

Thomas McCarthy’s indie-drama ‘Win Win’ stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a lawyer who is down on his luck financially. Struggling to keep his practice alive, he decides to become the guardian of Leo Poplar, one of his elderly clients, in order to be the recipient of a $1,500 monthly payment. However, instead of helping the man to live at home as he agreed, Mike sends him to a home for the elderly in the hope of losing the burden while keeping the cash. To his surprise, Mike then finds Kyle, Leo’s estranged grandson, on the doorstep of his old house - and this is where things get complicated.

It's also where things get extremely ‘The Blind Side’. For anyone who hasn’t seen Sandra Bullock’s award-winning performance in this schmaltzy production, The Blind Side’s premise is simple: A decent family comes across a child from a troubled background and takes him into their care. It turns out this child is excellent at a particular sport and they encourage him. He’s doing well, but a series of problems mean the family then find themselves in an emotional struggle to help him.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens in ‘Win Win’, making the potentially fertile plot twist of Kyle’s appearance a horribly predictable affair. The sport of choice this time is American Wrestling. With Mike being a part time coach, he invites Kyle to practise with his team and lo and behold, he’s a natural star. The remainder of the film follows suit and the only thing that truly keeps this production afloat is the all-round high standard of performance from cast, even first-time actor Alex Shaffer (Kyle).

‘Win Win’ does reach all expected standards of independent filmmaking and is undeniably a pleasant watch, but there is most definitely something lacking. A certain spark of originality, that something different that would completely set it apart from any other story of triumph over adversity. Instead, what we have is an excellently cast, superbly acted recreation of an idea that has been used too recently for it to feel new again. This is an enjoyable offering, but unfortunately not a winner in any respects.

Rating – 6/10

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About The Authors

Carla  Griscti

Carla Griscti

Editorial assistant on allaboutyou; Music lover, travel bee and food fanatic.

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Emma Marsden

Emma Marsden

Food consultant of All About You, loves creating something out of nothing and decluttering.

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Bernadette  Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Editor of All About You; an online journalist with a fetish for glossy magazines.

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Adrienne  Wyper

Adrienne Wyper

Deputy editor of All About You. I love cycling, cooking and creating

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Carol  Muskoron

Carol Muskoron

Associate editor of All About You, loves life (mostly) and one-pan recipes (always).

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