Wrestling no doubt has a certain appeal – nicely shaped bodies (and butts ;-) ) with not so much on them and two males "hugging" one another firmly…. I already noticed that way back in school, but I sucked too much at it, so that I never pursued it outside school lessons (we do have a reasonably successful wrestling club in the town where I live, in particular the girls/ women, though). Still, it’s not the most popular sport here in Germany unlike in the US where every school seems to have a team in addition to their football and basketball teams, which brings me to the topic.
One such wrestling team is part of the story of Win Win, a little movie that made an impression at TIFF last year. I’ve questioned the value of festival reviews and awards a couple of times, but this time they weren’t that far off and the movie actually was good. Unlike the promotional materials may suggest, it isn’t exactly a comedy nor is it a problem child nor a family man in trouble kind of film. It has moments of all of that, but never goes too deep with either. This allows it to flow naturally and unobtrusively, but strangely this is also the single biggest problem of the whole thing. It doesn’t really give you enough to establish a deeper relation with the characters. Despite the film being about 110 minutes, it never takes the time to really explore the motivations and backgrounds e.g. of the drug-addicted mother of Kyle or his own relation with her. When the film reveals something, it often only tells you what you were guessing all along. This makes in particular this part of the story feel unnecessary and unbelievable. Rather the film should have focused on the more quirky sides of some of the characters, making this more of a comedy and buddy movie.
This brings us back to the wrestling, which holds everything together as all the main characters are involved with it either as trainers and coaches or in case of the kids as the guys on the mat. In those moments the movie shines and is actually quite funny when it takes a play at the adults’ unrealized dreams and everyday trepidations and the youths’ shortcomings in sports and their puberty problems. Funnily, this could have been easily achieved by showing more of the training and competitions in order to show how the team mates interact with one another and measure their opposition, how he trainers respond and work out a strategy. It could have provided a nice analaogy to their otehr lifes. It would also have helped to give a feeling of time passing with a certain continuity, which is a bit absent here. You only get random glimpses and it often feels like "How did they qualify and train for that competition again?" A little more of that would have made what is still a good movie a real great one. Despite my criticism, I can still recommend the movie. It’s entertaining and you won’t be bored along the way, which is the most important thing.