Wrestling is one of our earliest sports. It requires not only physical strength, but also emotional and mental toughness. As an individual sport, it affords no room for excuses while providing an opportunity for supreme satisfaction. Plus, it is the purest, most primitive means of settling a score. Educational merit and social status mean little as long as I can kick your ass.
Which brings us to WIN WIN, a sickly sweet treat of a film about the exploits of a hapless attorney (Mike played by Paul Giamatti) who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach. In a desperate attempt to keep his practice, he agrees to take on the guardianship of an elderly client. But when the feeble ol’ chap’s drug-addicted daughter and athletically-gifted grandson knock at the door, Mike’s life is thrown into disarray.
Giamatti locks a full nelson around the role and delivers a sensational performance. We’re not asked to judge his character, who is equal parts generosity and licentiousness, but rather to impartially observe his comically painful situation.
Director Tom McCarthy slaps a tight cradle around a story that is quirky, compassionate and inspirational – the type of movie that forces you to leave the theater with a smile on your face.
It’s a pinning achievement; a technical fall of a picture; a slam dunk. Sorry, wrong sport. But still, the first great film of 2011.