Friday, May 5, 2017

Now on Netflix: Win It All (2017)

Win It All (2017) - Directed by Joe Swanberg; Written by Joe Swanberg, Jake Johnson; Starring Jake Johnson, Aislinn Derbez, Joe Lo Truglio, Keegan-Michael Key.

By Kenny Howell

Filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) has an unique style that depends on improvisation, which often makes his works feel a little off.

His best work is when he has actors that can you can just turn the camera on, and they deliver, just magnetic personalities that can work you through the sometimes odd improv.

Jake Johnson (Jurassic World) is one of those actors, and probably why Swanberg has worked with him a few times. Here, Johnson plays Eddie, a gambling addict who is pretty terrible at games of chance. It's almost if his high comes from losing, instead of chasing the big win.

One day, a former acquaintance of his visits him with a proposition. The man is going to be going off to jail, and he offers Eddie $10,000 to hold on to a duffel bag for him. Don't open it, don't even think about it, just put it in a closet and forget it for six months. The man obviously has no qualms with hurting someone who would mess with his stuff, so it makes it all the worse being in Eddie's hands.

The $10,000 will come in handy for Eddie, who is down on his luck. He has never really had a steady job, making most of his money parking cars at Chicago Cubs games. That isn't really the type of income you need to be a gambler, so he obviously has some debts.

However, that money just sitting there is too much for Eddie. He is just going to take a little bit out, gamble, then return that money and keep the rest. Of course, with his history, he loses it. And a lot more.

Taking it is a sign, and as a bit of desperation, Eddie takes a job at his brother's landscaping business and tries to go straight. That includes meeting Eva, a nurse he meets one night while out with his friends, played by Aislinn Derbez (Easy). She is perfect, and his job is going great, but his demons and past start to catch up with him.

The conclusion to Win It All, which I will obviously leave for your viewing, is a bit anti-climatic, which is probably bad for the climax. However, Johnson is so good that it doesn't really matter. He carries the film through the rough patches. He also has good chemistry with the enchanting Derbez, and all of that great work makes this one of Swanberg's better films.

Win It All is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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