Win Win: In audience with Tom McCarthy and rising star Alex Shaffer

Friday, February 25, 2011

Last night, at the close of the Philadelphia screening of the soon-to-be-released feature film, WIN WIN, writer/director Tom McCarthy and 17-year-old wrestler/terrific actor Alex Shaffer took questions from an audience that had clearly fallen in love with their film (I was right there with them: in love).  Alex plays a wayward kid who finds himself in the home (and on the wrestling team) of a good man who has done a bad thing.  Can I leave it at that?  Should I also add that the good but ethically compromised man is played (phenomenally) by Paul Giamatti, that Amy Ryan adds great emotional depth, that there are little girls in this film who will blow you away, and that a nerdy wrestler had us screaming for him when he finally took on Darth Vader at a match?

McCarthy, who wrote THE STATION AGENT, THE VISITOR, and UP, doesn't go for easy in his plots.  He has a surprising range of unexpected story lines (who puts croquet and wrestling in the same film?), an ability to dig out from moral tangles (why are we rooting so hard for Giamatti's character, when he has done such an unscrupulous thing?), an impeccable ear for real but original dialogue (there's a great bit here that arises from a certain JBJ tattoo (see the film, find out for yourself)), a dancer's rhythm (we need to laugh just when McCarthy gives us cause to laugh) and an outstanding eye for talent (seriously, this is some cast).  I have had the pleasure of meeting McCarthy's partner on this and other films, Mary Jane Skalski of Next Wednesday productions, and I felt her talent and presence as well—her ear, her eye, her maternal heart. 

Alex Shaffer had never, he told us last evening, acted beyond a stint in a middle school play before he responded to a call for theater-tempted New Jersey high school wrestlers.  Man, can this kid act—slaying the audience as much by what he won't say as by what he finally does.  Apparently Shaffer is also quite the wrestler, having won the state championship shortly after this film wrapped.  It was fun to watch him share this film last night with his four best friends and his cousin.    

Find out more about the film here, and go see it when it appears nationally in theaters in mid March.


Anna Lefler said...

This sounds amazing! Can't wait to see it in general release...

:-) Anna

Erin said...

Wow, this sounds incredible. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience of the screening. I will definitely check the film out as soon as I can!

Erin said...

Ooh, there is a screening in LA next week! I'm going to try to go!

  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by 2008

Back to TOP