Once again, Netflix has produced a superb original indie flick. “Win It All” may not be as action-jam-packed as other Netflix films, but it has a nearly unique style in the modern world of drama-prevalent and pristine videography.
Unlike the typical Hollywood film, there are no special effects and the somewhat less edited graphics are grainy. This adds weight to the realistic tone throughout the film. “Win It All” shows the real-world problems facing gambling addicts like Eddie, played by Jake Johnson, made famous by his role as Nick on “New Girl,” and what it means to be addicted to gambling, with some dry and situational humor tossed in. The film also includes a romance, which develops in a much more realistic way than it might in a typical Hollywood film and more slowly than in the typical independent film of our time.
Realism and truth are common themes in most American independent films, but this one takes it to a new level. In many other indie films, the “real” quality is strived for so hard that it becomes extreme either in melancholy, excessive swear usage and poor language, or in an over or understatement of drama throughout the flick. “Win It All” has almost none of that. Admittedly, there is about a two or three minute set of scenes that are overly dramatic, but since the film is an hour and a half long, that’s tolerable. Instead, this movie is more like a diary of a gambling addict’s life than a Hollywood story.
Johnson, who co-wrote the screenplay for the film with director Joe Swanberg, plays a much more serious character in this movie than in his role on “New Girl.” Although this is obviously fitting for a more serious film compared to a situational comedy series, it shows that Johnson is capable of performing well as a character with more depth, intelligence and sincerity than he has played before.
The dialogue and interpersonal relationships in the film are both well performed and fantastically well written, considering how true to life they seem. For instance, Keegan-Michael Key who plays “Sponsor” Gene, reacts and speaks to Eddie the way that someone accustomed to watching this type of film, or horror films, would: freaking out and attempting to convince the protagonist not to do what he’s thinking of doing. In the same way, the family dynamics between Eddie and his brother Ron, played by Joe Lo Truglio, are realistic because they make fun of each other but also love and support each other.
The producers of “Win It All” made fitting choices of background music to set the tone and atmosphere of each and every scene, from romantic to rock or a more bluesy sound for melancholy moments. The double meaning of the title is clever, more so than I first expected. Of course, there’s the obvious meaning in relation to gambling, but if you watch this rousing and rare film, I think you’ll find it’s a message about having a well-rounded life, as well.