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6 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Winslow Boy, The
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by Chris Parry

"David Mamet does a period piece and almost pulls it off."
3 stars

Mamet's adaptation of Terrence Rattigan's play is a solid piece of work. Not artistry, not by a long shot, but solid work. He's put together a film that tells the story well, but lacks the real heart required to give a lasting impression. Despite some strong performances by the leads, this film's lack of relevance in the modern age stops it from becoming a real balltearer and Mamet's unmistakable dialogue struggles to bust through the weight of olden times.

The story is thus, in the Winslow household, the youngest son is in the naval academy. When he is sent home from the academy after being accused and found guilty of stealing, his father is outraged. He decides he will spare no expense in saving his son's reputation and schooling.

But in defending oneself loudly, a person can not help but also trumpet the accusations loudly. In defense comes attack. And when the Winslow case starts to take it's toll on the rest of the family and make the front pages of the nation's newspapers, ol' pappy wonders if it's all worthwhile.

In the middle is his daughter, a rampant unionist and women's suffrage advocate, and the biggest baddest lawyer in the land, who has taken on the case, seemingly looking at certain defeat.
Sounds a bit lah-dee-dah? Well, to most it will be. The values of yesteryear that made this case so important in its time just don't reflect well in the cold hard light of the end of this millenium. It sometimes becomes a situation of "oh, just end it, fella."

But there's a whole lot that makes this project very interesting, not the least of which is the casting. Nigel Hawthorne (Madness Of King George) as the patriarch is, as always, fantastic. Jeremy Northam, as the high society lawyer is also on top of his game. But the star of the show is Mamet's own wife, Rebecca Pidgeon. She's not only easy on the eyes, but she has no problem nailing every scene she's in. While the object of the play should be Hawthorne, Pidgeon completely chews up the scenery.

The writing and direction, so often the stars of Mamet's work, are good but not overwhelming. You wouldn't know this was Mamet just be watching. It's the cast that are really on show here, and as such the story is of lesser relevance. The director generally keeps his wife's talent well hidden and underutilized, but after this film it would be very interesting to see her given a wider selection of roles to play. Perhaps she's too good to play most of the cruddy female roles on offer in today's Hollywood.

Either way, The Winslow Boy is a good film, if period pieces are your thing.

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originally posted: 06/16/99 01:58:09
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User Comments

10/29/07 mb loved it. Intelligent dialogue. Great acting. One of the best movies. 5 stars
6/19/06 chienne I did this play at school, this is an excellent film 5 stars
7/28/05 B.McGinnis Excellent, Memorable, Believalble 5 stars
11/21/04 Damson I saw the other version of this film and I believe it is better, though it's not bad. 3 stars
4/11/03 Jack Bourbon Sometimes simple is the best. 4 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Good stuff! 5 stars
8/30/02 chirpy well acted portrayal of search for justice at high cost 4 stars
11/18/01 Monster W. Kung Simply excellent. 5 stars
9/12/01 Reini Urban With "Land and Freedom" best british film since 30 years ("The Servant") 5 stars
2/14/00 toneely I loved this movie 5 stars
10/06/99 Mairi Thomas Superb acting, powerfully evocative of a time when greater justice was emerging for all. 5 stars
7/10/99 William McGrane This is a terrific movie. Pidgeon is wonderful. 5 stars
7/02/99 Costars Lovged it! Thought it was beautiful & subtle. Delighted it ended well. Too much Mamet. 4 stars
5/11/99 IF Magazine Those expecting a Mamet dialogue jackhammer will be disappointed. It's a lot more subtle. 4 stars
5/10/99 Mr Showbiz Whichever way you look at it, Mamet's adaption of Rattigan's famous play is a triumph. 5 stars
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  30-Apr-1999 (R)


  15-Jul-1999 (M)

Directed by
  David Mamet

Written by
  David Mamet
  Terence Rattigan

  Nigel Hawthorne
  Rebecca Pidgeon
  Jeremy Northam
  Gemma Jones

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