When I mentioned to director Tom McCarthy, a high school wrestler himself back in the day, Â that I thought Win Win was the best wrestling movie Iâ€™ve seen since Vision Quest, he shook my hand and said â€œAh yes, Vision Quest, our nemesis.â€ But that 1985 film (a good movie in its own right) canâ€™t really hold a candle to Win Win. Â Starring the always amazing, and supremely humble Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan (you might know her as Michaelâ€™s girlfriend on The Office) and newcomer, real wrestling champion, Alex Shaffer, Win Win is a win.
You might know McCarthy Â from The Station Agent and The Visitor, the NJ-native once again uses his home state as a backdrop to a story (written with long-time co-writer, Joe Tiboni) that starts out simple but grows complicated, but not unrealistically so, by movieâ€™s end. Giamatti and Ryan play a very realistic suburban married couple, as Ryan even commented: â€œPeople believed we were really married,â€ just working through life. Giamaittiâ€™s Mike Flaherty is a somewhat befuddled (but not overly so) guy-as he claimed: â€œThe befuddled are more fun to playâ€-in a movie where he suddenly gets handed some fortunes (one he has to finagle another that falls into his lap) that he simply runs with.
The focus of the movie, played by newcomer Shaffer, is in fact a wrestler who was seen by McCarthy a full year before he cast him, at a match when he was doing research for the film. According to the three main members of the cast who were at the press conference this day (Bobby Cannavale who is simply amazing in the film, coining the term â€œman blanketâ€ and the always superb Jeffrey Tambor are in Win Win as well) the filmâ€™s scrumptious real life dialogue really was all in the script (though it does seem as if the actors are improvising a lot of the time) making the movie something which seemed to be fun to make for everyone involvedâ€¦it certainly shows on screen as it did in the press conference with the good natured ribbing bandied back and forth between Ryan, Giamatti, Shaffer and McCarthy this day.
Win Win is not going to win any awards, it is too quiet and too real a film to make those kind of big Oscar waves, but you will easily become engrossed in these characters and the solid story that is revealed as we are artfully directed through some of the best wrestling sequences I have ever seen, and past the masterful acting of Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan (tat and all) and Alex Shaffer.