Win Win

In the spirit of supporting women in the film industry I went to see Win Win. This film was produced by seven people. Five of those people were women. Co-producer Jacqueline Brogan, executive producer Lori Keith Douglas, producer Lisa Maria Falcone, producer Mary Jane Skalski, and associate producer Erica Tuchman. The film definitely has a woman’s touch. The story follows a lawyer named Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti). Typically, men are put into power positions in films. Policemen, fire fighters, politicians, lawyers, etc…

Mike is not a very successful lawyer. In fact, he’s not a very successful man period. The strongest role in the film, in my humble opinion, is that of Mike’s wife Jackie Flaherty (Amy Ryan). She keeps her family grounded and doesn’t take any guff from anyone. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and let the world know how she feels. Mike feels as though he is drowning with nothing to grab onto in terms of supporting his family. Enter Leo Poplar (Burt Young). Leo is a man who is entering the beginning stages of dementia and is deemed incapacitated by the court. He must either be cared for by the state or New Jersey, or find a guardian. By way of fate, Mike finds out this his client Leo – who has been searching for his daughter for nearly twenty years – is offering $1500 monthly commission to his caregiver and whomever becomes his guardian will take on that handsome sum as well.

Here’s the problem, Leo wants to live at home and in order to be the guardian, Mike must promise to take care of Leo in his own home. Mike has dollar signs in his eyes and agrees to care for Leo in his house. Once Mike has locked into this position of guardian, he drops Leo off at a facility in which he will be cared for. He tells Leo that the judge ordered him to take him there. This is where the lying begins. When Mike goes to Leo’s home to turn off the water, a young man sits on Leo’s front step. Kyle, brilliantly played by Alex Shaffer, tells Mike that he is Leo’s grandson. This leads to a number of complications down the line, but Mike manages to keep things under control for a little while at least.

Mike and Jackie end up taking Kyle into their home until they can figure out what to do with him. All the while, Mike has been coaching a struggling high school wrestling team to make ends meet with co-coach Stephen Vigman (Jeffrey Tambor). When Kyle accompanies him to a practice one evening, he asks if he can practice with them next time. Turns out that Kyle just happens to be an incredibly skilled wrestler. He joins the team and becomes a fundamental asset to them. This is a happy distraction for Mike, Stephen, and Mike’s best friend Terry (Bobby Cannavale) who is recently divorced and struggling with moving on. This was the moment in which it felt that all was right with the world in the film. I found myself thinking “This is so wonderful! What could go wrong?”

When Kyle’s mother Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) comes into the picture everything seems to fall apart quite quickly. It is a messy situation and you find yourself then thinking “Oh my gosh, everything was going so well. How can we come back from this?”

This movie is far from a feel-good film, but incredibly heart-warming nonetheless. In all honesty, I wasn’t so excited about this one when I had only seen the previews. I say now that I am glad that I saw it because it’s one of those films that makes you appreciate life for what it is. Win Win is a winner in my book.


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