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The Winslow Boy
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Winslow Boy More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Excellent!

9/10
Author: KatharineFanatic from United States
29 February 2000

It's not hard to say that The Winslow Boy is the best film of 1999! Having been released to only a few theaters across the country, I was unable to see it, and waited impatiently until it appeared on DVD. I fell in love with it immediately. It was far from shallow, with the characters having layers of personality, and the story being quite possible.

I admit that it did not move along as fast as most people would have liked, but this is a *drama*!! It's not The Mask of Zorro!! There aren't supposed to be any sword fights, angry conversations, or heart-stopping moments. Instead, there is a delicately-crafted story with its sad moments as well as its bits of humor. (The many conversations between Suffragette Catherine Winslow and Lawyer Sir Robert Morton are not to be missed!)

Also, the delicate touches here and there add a great deal to the story, and the ending will bring a smile to your face. It may not be what you expect, but it's definitely the most romantic part of all the film. Jeremy Northam was as dashing as ever, and made a wonderful lawyer, right down to the angry glare, the lazy inclination of his head, the swift, elegant movements.

All in all, this is a film I'll recommend to anybody. Don't let the other reviewers turn you off ~ The Winslow Boy is not one to miss!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Father Fights For His Son's Honor

Author: new1sapi from Livonia, Michigan
23 February 2000

When director David Mamet created the new 1999 screen adaptation of the Winslow Boy I wondered if he took the advice I gave him in a letter after he directed The Spanish Prisoner. I advised him to continue making movies that are for the whole family, but with an appeal for adults. Well He did it! This is the first "G" rated film, intended for an adult audience, that I remember in years.

At the onset, Ronnie Winslow (The Winslow boy) has been expelled from a prestigious English Naval prep school. When Ronnie tells his father Arthur Winslow (Nigel Hawthorne) that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, Arthur begins a fight to restore his son's name.

The film is not a courtroom drama; it is more of an examination of characters that choose to make great personal sacrifices for a beloved. Interestingly the film opens with the family coming home from Sunday services. As they enter their house they chat about the scripture reading of the day. The reading happens to be from Gen. 41:18 about Joseph's interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. In pharaoh's dream the seven lean cows eat the seven fat cows, foreshadowing the coming meager years in their own household.

The story mainly focuses on three characters, Arthur Winslow, his daughter Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon, who also had a leading role in the Spanish Prisoner and is the directors wife), and the family attorney Sir Robert Morton (played by the handsome Jeremy Northam). Catherine is a liberated but temperate suffragette. Sir Robert is the cool and "apparently" passionless, self-interested lawyer who is opposed to feminism. The most fun scenes are when these two are juxtaposed. A little Pride and Prejudice without the pride. Once again we see the age-old dichotomy between the logical man and the intuition of a women; I never tire of it.

The film's premise is that justice and truth are worth sacrificing for. God the Father's Son was unjustly accused and was made to pay even while he was innocent. So to, we see this earthly father watch his son unjustly accused. Conversely, just as with Isaac and Abraham, our Father in heaven is often more gentle with us than He is even with His own Son.

Keep in mind while you watch the film that there are certain devices that David Mamet uses that give the film his signature; devices that make the films "Mametesque", if you will. The first thing to look for is how the characters will often rephrase their statements; they rephrase their statements. Get it. Another device he uses is omission. Characters may be talking to one another and you are listening just fine until they walk behind a wall and then you don't hear them any more. The thing omitted is always something seemingly important that you really wanted to know. Sometimes you find out later in the story and sometimes you don't. If it's important to understanding the characters you will find out, but if it is nonessential to the plot, i.e. how much money the process is going to make, you won't find out.

I highly recommend this film. My three and five year olds fell asleep. My eight and ten year olds enjoyed the film and I think they learned a lesson about telling the truth.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, uderstated look at the search for justice

9/10
Author: Barbara Pinzka (bpinzka@partnersmc.com) from Cincinnati, Ohio USA
19 February 2000

David Mamet is a writer and director best known for his sparse, intense dialogue and puzzle-like plots. The thought of him doing a movie set in Edwardian England, after decades of Ivory-Merchant treats, was shocking. But it works, brilliantly.

Edwardians were reserved people who were enjoying the fruits of the height of the British Empire and a comfortable middle class had been established. Into such a family enters a shocking development: the youngest son has been expelled from school for stealing. He insists on his innocence and the family turns to his defense, at great emotional and financial cost.

Based on a true story, The Winslow Boy is a fairly conventional drama about the tedious, disheartening search for justice experienced by far too many people. As is suggested to the family many times, why make all this fuss and get on with your lives. But this is about people to whom principles matter.

Mamet's careful control of the actors and direction perfectly suit the mood of the period, even if one can see the plot's bones poking through. Well worth my "9."

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film!

8/10
Author: Tom from New York, NY
16 February 2000

I found The Winslow Boy to be quite a departure for Mamet from The Spanish Prisoner, but very enjoyable. Again, scruples and honesty are the centerpiece and the strain it takes on the Winslow family. Nigel Hawthorne is once again brilliant as the world-weary father who leads the fight for justice in clearing the family name. Very uplifting!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A literate and uplifting film

9/10
Author: aleator from N. Ireland
20 December 1999

What a pleasure it is to see an adult film rated 'U' in the U.K. No foul language, violence or trendy special effects, just superb acting and wonderful dialogue. Based on Terence Rattigan's play, 'The Winslow Boy' examines the social order in England just prior to the first World War when the rule and moral authority of the 'establishment' was unassailable. A young naval trainee is expelled by the Admiralty for allegedly stealing a postal order. The audacious decision by the boy's family to challenge the ruling causes a national scandal.

Careful attention has been made to the fine detail in design of both sets and costume. Nigel Hawthorne is as reliable as ever in the role of the accused boy's father but in my book the best performances are by Gemma Jones as the mother and Jeremy Northam as the barrister. The film's theatrical origins are very obvious throughout with almost all the action taking place in the Winslow household. However this simply allows the viewer to concentrate on the outstanding performances of the entire cast. More like it please.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Less is more.

10/10
Author: Cabrito
24 October 1999

Here it is almost the end of October and this is still the best movie I have seen all year. It is better than the old B&W English film. Northam and Ms. Pidgeon are excellent and it startles one to see how well a virtually two-set stage play still sings on the screen. The feminist touch is perfect; the humor is perfect . . . and one still wonders if the kid did steal. This is a wonderful change of pace for David Mamet.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A courtroom drama or an unlikely courtship? Mamet keeps you guessing!

Author: mike rice (mike235@charter.net) from Sparta, Wisconsin 54656
21 September 1999

Dave Mamet, he of massively male play-cum-movies like Glenngarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, is toying in the melon patch of Merchant-Ivory and playwright Terence Rattigan in this wonderful film. I may be the only one who thinks so but I believe the director has the beginnings of a comedy here. I'll explain later.

Poor young Winslow, the great hope of a proud upper middle class family, has been sacked at Osbourne. His crime? Nothing as base as say dropping his "aye-chez." No, he's alleged to have stolen and forged a five pound postal money order in a fellow cadet's name. Enter Arthur, the proud father of this prodigy. This is a low blow to the Winslow Honor. Arthur shall fight this calumny if it means the family fortune. Nigel Hawthorne shows us the highs and lows of Winslow family pride, as Arthur, supported ably by Gemma Jones as his wife, Grace. Ronnie Winslow, his black sheep brother Dickie and the older Winslows then step mostly offstage. Young Ronnie is later seen being interrupted in the midst of a tennis game, having happily and readily adapted to a new school.

The family is teetering on the brink of insolvency. The action has shifted to the two characters I believe are really the focus of the film: Superbarrister Sir Robert Morton and Arthur's headstrong daughter Catherine Winslow. Ms. Winslow wears interesting sunglasses and her manner is brusque and unfeminine. Sir Robert is smitten instantly if you can grasp almost invisible movie subtext. The romance seems doomed at the couple's first meeting. Ms. Winslow remembers Sir Robert's earlier tiff with a suffragist group she supports. She believes that Sir Robert may not be able to save the family name. Sir Robert is taken aback- and I say, delighted- to be so grandly challenged from such an interesting quarter. It is cut and thrust between this unlikely pair for the rest of the film. Neither Sir Robert nor Catherine gives an inch.

An enormous and expensive public relations and advertising campaign is mounted to exonerate Young Winslow. Though the period of the film seems to be just before World War 1, the newspaper headlines and ad tactics appear similar to those employed today. Even the bloody Kaiser is evoked as a symbol of evil in the battle to prove the boy's innocence.

Mr and Mrs. Winslow are apparently too sensitive to appear in Court or stand in the gallery at Commons as Sir Robert conjures political business on poor Ronnie's behalf. Ms. Winslow does this instead. She brings news, bad or good, back to the Winslows at home. Meanwhile, the belt must be tightened, the purse grows lighter. Cheaper rations must suffice, the maid may be let go. Never mind. The great question is whether Sir Robert is making headway with Ms. Winslow. Does he know what he is doing? It is a very long way to first base here.

There is a sharp interrogation sequence in which Sir Robert questions Ronnie closely. Young Winslow makes mistakes that dismay his family in answering Sir Robert. Thats alright, the innocence of these mistakes has convinced Sir Robert the boy has been wrongly charged.

There is bad news and good news as the campaign ebbs and flows. The privations at home contrast with successes in court and commons. Ms. Winslow's assessment of the barrister has changed not a whit. Sir Robert is confident. Ms. Winslow is unconvinced. The audience has no idea where this is going. It is particularly difficult to read Catherine. She simply has no screen subtext. Some critics say actress Rebecca Pidgeon is not playing the part correctly. They believe Mamet's girlfriend is giving a bad performance here. She is not. It is for Sir Robert, played by the intelligent Jeremy Northam, to provide all the character shading necessary to untangle this web. He isn't interrogating a witness, he is watching Ms. Winslow's reaction to the witness, perhaps not necessarily with a view toward winning, but to simply get to the bottom of Catherine. Exonerating poor Ronnie is not Sir Robert's goal, its winning "Sis" over that matters. Except you can't quite be sure this is true until the film pays off; Not with just a single surprise, but two of them. There's a comedy brewing here but Mamet/Rattigan- I'm not sure who is the author of what here- never let any scene quite reach the level of comedy. You have to watch the interplay between Sir Robert's smirk and Ms. Winslow's drollery awhile, before you know it is not the verdict that interests, but whether they'll get on.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Mamet meets turn of the century England, and the result is a gem.

10/10
Author: NYCDude from New York, NY
22 July 1999

The previews of this picture made it very clear what the movie is about. A young boy is (wrongfully?) accused of stealing and is tossed out of school. The family then fights for his name and it goes to court in a notorious trial. I went to see the movie based on this preview and had mentally constructed the outlines of the picture. I had not seen the previous Winslow Boy film.

I was wrong! I expected to see an action trial scene. I expected some lingering doubt about the guilt or innocence of the boy. I did not expect any romance. Instead, I witnessed the power of great writing. The acting was uniformly wonderful, with Nigel Hawthorne giving an unusually compelling performance. Jane Austen would have loved this film.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Right is done

9/10
Author: Lil'Girl from Brisbane, Australia
15 July 1999

A young middle class English boy returns from a stuffy naval academy in disgrace. He was accused of theft by the powers that be and was found guilty. However, he protests his innocence and his family, who believes him, sets off determined to challenge the verdict. In the end the Winslow boy plays a rather small part in this narrative, as he is merely the catalyst for interactions within a pre WW1 English family. As a portrait of social history, we are amused at the restraint and civility of all, at a time when people subscribed to convention and no one actually said anything directly but intimated through verbal exchanges. Feelings were carefully hidden behind words and true emotions were expressed in code.

The highlight of the film has got to be the bantering between the key players: the head of the household (Nigel Hawthorne), the barrister engaged to defend the boy (Jeremy Northam) and the sister of the boy (Rebecca Pidgeon). Each shows their flair for comic timing and are happily provided with a serviceable dialogue. Hawthorne is, as always, a wonderful delight. Northam is stunning as Sir Robert Morton: his every gesture, eye expressions so perfectly in tune with the character. I would have loved to have seen more of him on screen. Pidgeon does well with her character but the aloofness of the character made it difficult for us to empathize with her.

We live in an age where permissiveness is the order of the day; when not expressing your true feelings is called "repression"; where the media encourages individuals to reverberate their personal conflicts through the air waves. "The Winslow Boy" is a breath of fresh air to remind us that people in the old days did have feelings, did care but did not feel the need to act or speak on impulse.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A fabulous date movie whether you're 16 or 60.

10/10
Author: Dwight Ball from North Carolina, USA
6 July 1999

It is refreshing to see a director and cast allowed to make a movie on talent, and a great script without having to resort to sex, violence or foul language. The Winslow Boy is an absorbing movie that proves "if you make it, they will come" - the theater was almost full when we went, a Monday afternoon at 3PM. I highly recommend this film to anyone eager to see Academy Award acting without the expected fill-ins of sex and language.

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