Win/win (Jaap van Heusden, 2010): Netherlands

Reviewed by Paula Gomez. Viewed at the AFI Film Festival 2010, Hollywood.

Win/win is a fantastic character driven movie about the ups and downs of winning. It tells the story of Ivan (Oscar Van Rompay), a modest and charismatic character who is in his own way complete, for he has an optimistic view on life and a very playful personality. He loves numbers and is very good at solving puzzles. He seems to be always in high spirits and eager to go to work every day. Suddenly, his talent regarding his ease to work with numbers is discovered by one of his supervisor who then promotes him and gives him a life of many luxuries. Ivan even finds a girl that he fancies and courts her, as his success at work skyrockets. He becomes a very successful employee who happens to always win money for the company he is working for. They love him and worship him at work, but he can’t take it all in at once and in a way becomes distressed with his persona.

This movie is about victory, failure and choosing to find a true calling. The beginning of the film starts with an upbeat tone. There is fast music and fast editing as the morning routine of Ivan is displayed on the screen. By the end of the movie, the editing and the tone around Ivan become much different as if to enhance the successful character transformation that he inevitably goes through. A very beautiful display of numbers and puzzles in shown cinematographically in several scenes. One of them shows this when Ivan plays hopscotch on the streets and the camera is placed above him. The camera keeps getting further and further away from him and the audience sees that the squared tiled floor in which Ivan is playing hopscotch is just like a piece of squared paper in which Ivan “plays with numbers.” Whenever he concentrates on his work, finds a puzzle to be solved, or closes his eyes and feels his bare feet on the carpet, the diegetic sound lowers and a non-diegetic synthetic sound increases to effectively reinforce the heightened sensibility that he has when analyzing numbers and puzzles or just feeling his surroundings.

It is a great film worth your time because it is a gorgeous story about winning and rarely loosing.  It’s a fun ride and it’s charming too for the dialog of Ivan is at times poetic. Lastly, one should see it because Oscar Van Rompay gives an amazing performance worthy of creating many smiles.

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