Life can fluctuate, and I believe that’s the point Win It All is trying to make. Then again, filmmaker Joe Swanberg may have just set out to make a straightforward character study, in which case that works too.
Swanberg, who has been known to make loose films that are more driven by character motivations rather than obligatory exposition, teams up with New Girl’s Jake Johnson to fuse morality with addiction in Win It All. Compulsive gambler Eddie (Johnson) is asked to hold on to a bag for someone while they serve time in prison. Eddie – who will be paid for his troubles – is the perfect choice to carry out this favour since he’s dependable yet he doesn’t have close relations with the anticipating inmate.
Curiosity gets the best of Eddie, however, and he opens the bag to find random items with suspect intentions, along with a heaping amount of cash. To scratch his habit’s itch, Eddie plans to spend a little cash to make a lot of dough.
Johnson is very good as Eddie, a role that assumes hygiene and sleep are irrelevant. The actor’s characterization is realistic because the audience, to an degree, is appropriately kept at a distance – Eddie is the only person who understands his own bad habit. This slight disconnect is just the ticket to shock us and make us squirm when Eddie is caught up in a game of high stakes and refusing to take a hint when the odds are stacked against him.
As the film winds down after some entertaining, well-acted exchanges between Johnson and the talented supporting cast, Win it All resorts to conclusions that are all too pat. But again, I repeat, life fluctuates. You can sustain and succeed in life just as quickly as you can lose everything. Win It All does a solid job at driving home that message.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie