Exclusive: Paul Giamatti takes coaching to comical extremes in ‘Win Win’ clip

One of the more entertaining films at this year’s 2011 Sundance Film Festival was “Win Win.” Luckily for audiences, they haven’t had to wait long for it to hit theaters as it opens in limited release on March 18.

The third directorial effort from Tom McCarthy, who previously helmed “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” “Win” is set in a small New Jersey town where local lawyer Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is faced with mounting costs on his law practice while coaching one of the worst high school wrestling teams in the state. Things take a peculiar turn when the estranged grandson of one of his clients, Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer), arrives on his family’s doorstep after running away from home.  It turns out Kyle is a champion wrestler who had some emotional issues with his mom in the Midwest.  While Kyle tries to figure out how to deal with his mother’s addiction recovery, Mike recruits him to the wrestling team and, surprise, things turn around for all parties involved (although there are some surprises along the way).

In this exclusive clip provided to HitFix, Mike is speaking to Kyle before his first New Jersey match only to have the youngster make a surprising request.  Bobby Cannavale, who nearly steals the movie, is also in the scene as Mike’s best friend and impromptu assistant coach there to check out the budding phenomenon.

Shaffer has a compelling screen presence and fantastic wrestling skills.  That’s mostly because Shaffer was cast based on his talent in both areas, even if he’d never acted professionally before.  I had a chance to talk to Alex during the film’s premiere at Sundance this past January.  His co-stars were big fans of his work and Shaffer shouldn’t look past trying to land more acting gigs in the future.  You can check out the interview with Shaffer below and the exclusive clip embedded above the post.

“Win Win” opens in limited release March 18.

For year round entertainment news and commentary follow Gregory Ellwood on twitter @HitFixGregory