Win Win

Director: Thomas McCarthy
Year Released: 2011
Rating: 3.0

An attorney and high school wrestling coach - played by the irreplaceable Paul Giamatti - takes a teen who ran away from home (Alex Shaffer) and encourages him to wrestle for his team - it turns out the kid's a star on the mat, but he's also the grandson of a senile man (Burt Young) who was fleeced by Giamatti for his guardianship. Highly contrived setup aside, this is a rather intriguing little picture about how high school sports are just as competitive for adults as they are for the students involved: Giamatti's passion in seeing the wrestlers 'win' is obvious, and it's clear his coaching is a way to escape the dreariness of his job as a lawyer. It's unclear as to how or why Amy Ryan's dutiful wife is able to tolerate some strange young lad living in her basement, but it's best not to think about the particulars; Shaffer (a real-life wrestler from Jersey) is convincing as the brooding, taciturn and deeply troubled lad (anyone that's ever been around H.S. kids for as long as I have knows this is how many of them act).