Originally from Clash, May 2011
Tom McCarthy’s 2003 film The Station Agent announced his ability to yield a touching story of a set of seemingly disparate characters slowly unified, in part, by lead character Finbar’s love of the railroads. For this, only his third movie, McCarthy repeats the trick with rail replaced by the world of high school wrestling.
Unlike Finbar (whose dwarfism represented just part of his unorthodox complexities), Paul Giamatti’s Mike is an immediately likeable everyman. Unbeknown to his family, his law firm is struggling almost as much as the wrestling squad he coaches, forcing him to make a dubious decision that slowly returns to bite him. In the meantime, prodigious young wrestler Kyle becomes a temporary addition to his household and develops both an unlikely bond with Mike’s wife and the admiration of his wayward best friend.
While The Station Agent was rich with originality Win Win is immediately more familiar, especially with the generically upbeat wrestling sub-plot. And like McCarthy’s debut, Win Win’s sense of drama is so subtle that it barely brims to the surface. Yet its characters again burrow into affectionate territory, suggesting that it will also possess an insidious charm that will grow with repeated viewings.