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"Win Win," Paul Giamatti's Latest Movie, Review

Updated on April 8, 2011
Alex Shafer and Paul Giamatti
Alex Shafer and Paul Giamatti
Jeffrey Tambor
Jeffrey Tambor
Amy Ryan
Amy Ryan
Bobby Cannavale
Bobby Cannavale

Win Win

Win Win is a warm-hearted little movie about a struggling lawyer in a small town in New Jersey whose financial straits tempt him to petition to the court in order to become the guardian of an elderly client suffering from dementia in so that he could collect a $1500 per month guardian fee so that he can pay his family's health insurance premium. Neither Giamatti nor the court was able to locate the man's daughter whom he hadn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Giamatti promised the judge he would help the elderly man remain in his home as he wished rather than be put in a nursing facility. Once he became the man's guardian he promptly places him in a quite nice nursing home.

Soon a teenage boy shows up on the doorstep of the elderly man's empty house. He tells Giamatti that he's come to live with his grandfather. Giamatti takes him to visit his grandfather in the assisted living facility, and they have a nice visit. The boy's mother is in a drug rehabilitation facility in Ohio and he wants nothing to do with her. Giamatti and his wife take the boy in and try unsuccessfully to contact his mother. The boy gets along well with Giamatti, his wife and two small daughters.

Giamatti and his law partner coach the highly unsuccessful local high school wrestling team. They discover that the boy had been one of the top high school wrestlers in Ohio. He works out with their team and nobody can touch him. So, Giamatti convinces the boy to enroll in the school and join the team which ends up in the state finals and he's recruited by a college based on his wrestling successes. Then the boy's mother shows up with a lawyer bent on taking charge of her father's care and his money.

The movie deals with human frailties and motivations in a warm and human way. None of the characters is perfect and none is totally evil.Giamatti is a much nicer character in Win Win than in Barney's Version, and he delivers his usual stellar performance of a humorous, sad sack character who tries to do the right thing. Alex Shafer does a marvelous job as Kyle, the teen runaway, and Amy Ryan is quite good also as Giamatti's wife. Bobby Carnavale and Jeffrey Tambor add humor as assistant coaches of the wrestling team.

Giamatti fans will like this movie as well as anyone else who enjoys movies that treat serious moral issues with subtlety and a light touch.

The movie was directed and written by Tom McCarthy; based on a story by Mr. McCarthy and Joe Tiboni; director of photography,

“Win Win” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Language familiar to anyone who has driven in New Jersey.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent review here, Ralph - I was actually wondering about 'Win Win,' so it's great to have come across this review. Might even have to catch it this weekend!

      (And I loved the "language familiar to anyone who has driven in New Jersey" bit. Good stuff.)

    • Mimi721wis profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the info.

    • The Jet profile image

      The Jet 

      8 years ago from The Bay

      I will check it out when I can. Thanks for the review.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks, Jeff.

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 

      8 years ago from St. Louis

      Thanks Ralph, I thought this looks like a good movie, and now I want to see it even more.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the movie. I'll look for your review and link it to mine.

    • profile image


      8 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      Thanks for the review. I not only loved the director's earlier movies (especially "The Station Agent"), but I've been planning to see this one on Monday the 11th and review it on Tuesday the 12th, so this was especially interesting.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the trailer and the review. It sounds like a movie I might enjoy and I'm always looking for a good movie.



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