'Win Win' looks to keep up writer-director Tom McCarthy's winning streak [Video]
Charlie Sheen seems to have the market cornered on the word "winning" these days, but hopefully that won't overshadow the opening of writer-director Tom McCarthy's "Win Win," his third feature after "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor."
The film debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival to high praise and looks to be the movie that cements McCarthy's reputation for crafting real, nuanced, human-level stories.
In the film, McCarthy (also a character actor in numerous blockbusters) threads together several plot strands, including a struggling small-town New Jersey lawyer (Paul Giamatti) who cuts a corner for financial gain; a divorced friend trying to reclaim his life (Bobby Cannavale); and a displaced teenager who gets a shot at redemption via high-school wrestling (Alex Shaffer, a first-timer who came to McCarthy's attention as a real-life wrestling champion).
The movie comes from a more personal place than McCarthy's previous work -- he wrote it with his childhood friend and drafted off experiences from their New Jersey upbringing. "We didn't want to condescend to these people, and we didn't want to sentimentalize them. We just wanted to live with them," McCarthy told 24 Frames.
(See below for an exclusive clip from the film featuring Shaffer and Amy Ryan, who plays the wife of Giamatti's character.)
"Win Win" also moves the filmmaker into more commercial territory, first by embroidering in comedy that didn't figure into his first two films, as well as by situating his characters in a more readily identifiable universe.
"Tom's first two films looked at very specific worlds, said Michael London, the veteran Hollywood producer who produced "Win Win." "But this took his themes and his voice and put them in a universal world."
--Patrick Kevin Day and Steven Zeitchik
Photo: From left, Paul Giamatti, Clare Foley II and Amy Ryan star in "Win Win."