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:: Win Win

Whichever reviewers labelled Win Win an outrageously laugh-out-loud comedy really need to have their heads read, because Win Win is a brilliant film but certainly isn’t a comedy. This is drama at its very best and deserves to be credited as that so audiences know what to expect.

Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is keeping a big secret from his wife, Jackie (Amy Ryan) – the fact that his law firm is going broke because ‘their simply aren’t enough old people that need help’. Desperate to save his firm Mike pulls a swiftly a promises the court that he will look after the elderly, Leo Poplar (Burt Young) and get paid for it, but instead Mike puts Leo in a home and pockets the cash. What Mike doesn’t count on is that this action will result in Leo’s troubled young grandson, Kyle (Alex Shaffer) and drug-using daughter, Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) coming into their lives and changing them forever.

Director/writer, Thomas McCarthy has really created the perfect drama with Win Win. This film takes the audience on a journey that they aren’t likely to forget for a long, long time. The story serves to remind people that when you see a troubled young person you should always ask how they have ended up the way they have… every person has a story, it just needs to be told. McCarthy’s characters really come to life and even though Mike has done something dodgy you can’t help but feel for him. So good is the writing that you also find yourself really feeling for Kyle while hating Cindy… to get that kind of feeling from a script these days is a rare thing indeed.

The other thing that makes Win Win seem to believable is the fact that McCarthy hasn’t cast one of ‘Hollywood’s beautiful people’ in the lead role. Paul Giamatti looks like the kind of person that you would live next door to and is truly believable as Mike. However, the real standout here is newcomer, Alex Shaffer who was most likely cast in the role because of his history in High School wrestling but ends up showing what a sensational actor he is. Shaffer is certainly a real find and it is easy to see that he will have a really big future ahead of him.

To be blunt Win Win is one of the best films of 2011. It is a well-written drama that ends up being a sensational film that you will remember for a long time to come.