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Win Win


Stars: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer, Bobby Cannavale, Melanie Lynskey, Burt Young, Jeffrey Tambor, Margo Martindale

Director: Tom McCarthy

This is a nice little movie with engagingly naturalistic performances, and it's just a shame that it will have little or no appeal for mainstream cinema audiences. Attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti) is struggling to make ends meet, so when he gets a rich client, Leo (Young), who's suffering from dementia, he sees a chance for a little extra money by applying to become the man's paid guardian, then using Leo's own money to put him in a home.

This sin will eventually find him out, but, in the meantime, Leo's (dyed) blond teenage grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer), on the run from an ex-junkie mother (Lynskey), turns up at Leo's old house and is taken in by the basically kind-hearted Mike, to the concern of his loyal wife Jackie (Ryan), who locks Kyle away from her two young daughters - 'We have kids, Mike. I'm not taking any chances with Eminem down there.'

Kyle does have his good points, however, one of which being that he's a former college wrestling star. And Mike happens, in his spare time, to be one of the wrestling coaches at the local high school.

Giamatti, Ryan, Lynskey and Martindale (as Lynskey's lawyer) are especially good here, with a nice cameo from Clare Foley as Mike and Jackie's older daughter Abby. 'Where's Daddy?' she asks one morning. 'He's running,' explains Jackie. 'From what?' Abby asks. From himself, is the answer, for most of this low-key but enjoyable film.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Technicolor.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 16 May 2011