Sunday, April 17, 2011

Win Win (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Win Win

"Win Win " is an overcoming- all-odds film. It has a wrestling for life theme and although it may not have the pin of provocation, it hits all the right notes when grappling for your entertainment. 
Paul Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, an attorney who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach. Giamatti's Mike  is perfectly anxious. His practice is declining. The wrestling team is losing. He is low on money and self esteem. 

He decides to become the guardian of a client with Alzheimer's played by Burt Young, while surreptitiously putting him in a nursing home against his wishes. He needs the money.
Giamatti's angst is so well-travelled and familiar that it doesn't even seem a stretch. But every actor has his/her trademark. We can't blame him.
One day he finds a kid on his clients house steps. The kid is the grandson of the client. His name is Kyle (Alex Shaffer) and he is also blonde, moody and troubled. Kyle has an Owen Wilson air of mystery. He is a bit monotone but it is not overtly angry, more like Ferris Bueller accompanied by the music of Nirvana. Anti-social and charming, Kyle rolls along with his own loping gait, halfway between a shuffle and a dance under sleepy eyes. No one knows what to do with him. Kyle moves in with Coach Mike. Then he asks to practice and Eureka! Kyle is a wrestling wunderkind.
After his deadbeat mother comes in the picture, and wants him to move back, Kyle goes wild. Attacking his opponent and even Coach Mike with violent wrestling moves seemingly out of the blue. WTF Bro! Kyle is troubled.  In  the abrupt fight scene between Giamatti and Shaffer, the film almost predictably becomes a  hybrid of "The Karate Kid" and "Anger Management". The authenticity of Kyle, however, gives a charge to the film and saves it from being a sequence of Hallmark hotspots.
Actor Alex Shaffer has a pale wakeful dreaminess in his role. His aura makes me think oddly of David Bowie in "The Man Who Fell to Earth"--a spaced out being who remains poised and silent while a crazed planet moves beneath him, out of orbit. Kyle Timmons: The Odd One Out. A sun-blanched Earthling that needs to be hit on the side of the head before every match.
Alex Shaffer is a curious star and the highlight of this film.

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