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- Director: Tom McCarthy
- Release Date: May 2011
- Run Time: 106
- Genre: Comedy
Paul Giamatti takes on the title role of a good man in a bad situation that he tries to make right and comes out on top in the end. He plays Mike Flaherty. A solid cast helps the story, with Amy Ryan as his acerbic wife; and, Jeffery Tambor plays his neighbor. Burt Young plays the “old man” whom Mike sells out and places in a sheltered care facility- even though he told the judge he would provide in-home care to in a court arranged guardianship. Mike needed the cash but not the grief. Under the cover of judicial ignorance, Mike leaves the old man in a nursing home and collects the check each month.
Mike is the wrestling coach at the local high school. He has high hopes for the team but the skill level of his warriors is somewhat lacking. Mike attracts this kind of heartless situation where good guys fall short despite the best t of intentions. He also attracts a bit of luck when the fiery and scary strong young stud Kyle shows up and needs a place to stay. Kyle is a wrestler, too.
Mike’s world changes as it does for his family when they take Kyle into their home. He challenges them with his ferocity on and off the mat. Mike’s wife locks her door when Kyle is around. But the overall balance of the situation is a win-win for Mike. And that is what he is concerned about. Kyle is played by the new film talent Alex Shaffer. It could very well be his performance of lifetime. Some have called it brilliant. I call Shaffer a super-nova of a film presence in this film. There is something about rural New Jersey and quiet desperation that sets a tempo in this film where I kept waiting for out and out violence to erupt.
Despite my stereotyping of the setting (hey! I been to Jersey. Know what I’m sayin’?) the film makes it way to an ending that will leave you deeply affected. This is a film that you can make plans that you will keep for afterward—but you will end up telling the story to anybody who will listen.
Win-win aptly describes the relationship between moviegoer and the film. I categorically recommend it.