Win It All (2017) Review

Thoughtful and engaging, Win It All is a droll comedy drama that balances humour and quandary with cinematic capability.

Win It All is an American comedy film co-written, directed, and edited by Joe Swanberg. The film stars Jake Johnson, who co-wrote the film with Swanberg, alongside Aislinn Derbez [Easy], Joe Lo Truglio [Brooklyn Nine-Nine], and Keegan-Michael Key [Key & Peele]. The film was distributed by Netflix in April 2017. 

The film follows Eddie Garrett [Jake Johnson], who has been asked to keep hold of a suspicious duffle bag from an acquaintance. Despite being told not to open it, Eddie is unable to resist the temptation and finds stacks of cash inside, leading him down a pathway that gets him into serious debt.

One thing that stood out to me when watching Win It All was the film’s visual style. The film’s cinematographer Eon Mora did a great job of nailing the film’s colour palette and camerawork. The film captures a kind of grittiness that doesn’t conform to what we would usually expect to see in a “gritty” film, it’s more so the abundance of muted greys, reds, and oranges, that foreground the more serious elements of the film’s narrative. I also really like that it was shot on film – I have spoken about my penchant for film over digital here!

Most of the film takes place in indoor settings, usually low lit with electric lighting. The scenes that take place outside manage to stay away from the iridescence of a calculated golden hour shot. The film was shot on location in Chicago, and manages to find the balance between depicting the city without flashy aerial shots nor in a rundown state à la Gotham.

Jake Johnson as Eddie Garrett in Win It All (2017)

Something I noted as interesting about the film is that there are a number of scenes without scoring. One that sticks out in my mind in particular is at the film’s climax, when it seems like there should be a high octane undercurrent. The distinct lack of underscoring actually makes the scene more salient as it works towards the film’s underpinning sense of restlessness.

Although the film is largely considered to be a comedy title, I think it falls more within the realm of a comedy-drama. It explores Eddie’s relationship with gambling and addiction in a thoughtful way, transcending what we might consider as irreverent. This being said there are lots of funny moments throughout, and a touch of awkwardness too. I really enjoyed watching Win It All and I would recommend it to anybody comedy that leans more towards meaningfulness. 

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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