If I had been writing this a few years ago there would be an obvious Charlie Sheen joke here. Winning has Paul Newman playing a racing car driver, Frank Capua, who dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500, however, his focus to get there leads him to neglect his wife, Elora, played by Joanne Woodward, pushing her into the arms of his rival, Lou, played by Robert Wagner.
I did not enjoy this film at all. None of it rang true for me. The two leads meet when Frank is drunk and comes into the place where Elora works. Now in real life if a drunk man comes into a closed rent-a-car shop and starts talking to the woman who is alone on duty there, I don’t think she’s going to go for a drive with him. Because of this I never bought the romance so when it undercut the entire dramatic weight of the movie, because when their marriage inevitably ran into problems it was a case of thinking, ‘well, of course, what did you expect you idiots?’. So the film didn’t do anything to engender sympathy for any of the characters, with the possible exception of Elora’s teenage son, who was caught in the crossfire of all these bad decisions.
Everything in Winning felt constructed in order to elicit an emotional response from the audience but none of it flowed naturally from the characters. It was all very shallow and inauthentic. Even the racing story wasn’t that interesting either. This was a big miss for me and I’m disappointed because I usually love Newman’s films.