Thursday, April 20, 2017
WIN IT ALL (2017)
Directed & Edited By: Joe Swanberg
Written By: Joe Swanberg & Jake Johnson
Cinematography By: Eon Mora
Cast: Jake Johnson, Joe Lo Truglio, Keegan Michael-Key, Aislinn Derbez, Steve Berg
Eddie Garrett agrees to watch a duffel bag for an acquaintance who is heading to prison. When he discovers cash in the bag, he's unable to resist the temptation and winds up deeply in debt. When the prison release is shortened, Eddie suddenly has a small window of time to win all the money back.
This movie is familiar, yet continously off beat. It tries to be a cassavettes esqué character study of a gambler whose life is in shambles because of it. Who finds redemption and temptation continuously.
Especially as he is offered a once in a lifetime chance that seems more dependent on plot than logic. That ends up setting him on a course with destiny where everything falls into place of sorts.
What might not work for the audience is that feeling for all of it's hard bitten luck that it presents. The film and the situations pretty dicy but offer more of a light touch throughout. We feel the hardships and see his troubles, but he never seems far off and not aware of his addiction or problems he is even open to the conditions and repercussions. Yet still takes chances on gambling.
Unlike a John Cassavettes film this isn't as heartbreaking nor as hard bitten. We get glimpses of supporting characters though the film is mainly a one man show for actor Jake Johnson an actor who usually plays more comedic roles but here walks a fine line between drama and comedy. As always he gives a good performance as so far in the films and television I have seen him In he never has given a bad performance despite the quality of the films or programs. Here he gives a DYNAMITE performance in the lead he is charismatic, charming and funny even when he is pathetic.
Though the film is quite polished he is the biggest and strongest reason to see this film. As it feels he gets to be front and center in a role he owns. Just as he has stolen films in the past on supporting performances like in the films CEREMONY, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED and even LET'S BE COPS
The characters in the film feel unpolished and real. As we get glimpses into their lives and relationships with the main character. So they are In Service to him but never quite disposable. Also the constant edits that usually alert the audience that there are multiple takes being done usually for improvising dialogue. Unless done sometimes in long continuous shots. Sometimes take you out of the scene and keep it from having the stronger dramatic effect more the later might have had.
The romance that develops and helps give his life and actions meaning takes it's time and we watch it develop. That comes off as the films sweet spot.
The film feels more scripted than flights of fancy improv. It feels tighter even though it has a similar mood. It has the shaky guerilla style camera work. That feels more in the moment and unpredictable. Though what it lacks is pontification and close-upset though we follow the character the film feels more edited than with plenty of long shots or one takes. It separates itself and lets the audience breathe. Though similarly not as plot heavy letting the story and situations speak for themselves and have the characters more live in the moments
The cast is more naturalistic. Barely a recognizable face, but they all play down to earth, relatable and likeable even the threatening force. Though is the muscle and threatening but comes off as a regular likeable person.
The film movie Salinger quickly but makes it's presence felt with the audience. You want to spend more time with this character but don't want to wear out your welcome.
This isn't the first collaboration between director Joe Swanberg and stat Jake Johnson. Who also co-wrote the script together. Johnson has appeared in his films DIGGING FOR FIRE and DRINKING BUDDIES. So they have a familiarity with each other and here seem to fit into each other's rhythms for the best results. This is one of director Swanberg's most mainstream films next to DRINKING BUDDIES. As here though it is loose you can feel the tightness of the film and it's script.
The film finally does get tense in the last 20 minutes where it gets real into the nitty gritty but still has a lose sense of humor about itself. As you are hoping for the best but expecting the worse.
The film never loses it's Charm even though it does continuously keep you and the characters on edge as it seems to never go quite the way you expect even though you know what is going to happen.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND, THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, OWNING MAHONEY and CALIFORNIA SPLIT would be excellent companion Pieces with this film