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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.
If there was ever a movie for people who like the subtle nuances in acting
to tell what's going on beneath the surface story, The Winslow Boy is it.
It's interesting the way different members of the audience will probably
have different views on what the main point of the movie was. Was it the
actual theft of the money and whether young Ronnie Winslow is guilty or
Was it Arthur Winslow's (brilliantly played by Nigel Hawthorne) obsessive
and personalized fight to clear his son's name? Or was it Catherine
(perhaps Rebecca Pidgeon's best performance) and her various romantic
possibilities and how they affect her involvement in the case? People who
choose the theft itself may be the ones disappointed in the movie since
interest in the theft pretty much corresponds with Ronnie's. Halfway
he's moved on happily to another school and has practically forgotten
This is not one of the more immediately exciting dramas you'll see. There are no fireworks; all the characters are proper and restrained. But David Mamet films everything in a way which made me feel like I was another member of the Winslow household. A shy member who doesn't speak up and just observes the goings-on. ***1/2 out of ****
This film will disappoint those looking for an action thriller. Instead , The Winslow Boy finds its thrills and its action within the minds and hearts of its characters. Mamet, accomplishing a feat reminiscent of Scorsese's the Age of Innocence, creates an adult film without sex or violence. Also like Scorsese, he fashions a film which remains true to his abiding concerns while ostensibly dealing with a theme and a period that is alien to his sensiblity. Mamet tells his story and develops his characters with a subtlety and richness that Merchant Ivory and their ilk ( please, let no-one mention the ludicrous Anthony Minghella!) can only envy. Nigel Hawthorne(who should have gotten an Oscar for The Madness of King George,) and Jeremy Northam ( one of the few good things about the over-rated Amistead), give Oscar-worthy performances. The scene where Hawthorne asks his son if he stole the note, and the scene when David Norton cross examines Ronnie, are among the most powerful ever put on the screen. The final exchange between the Winslow daughter and Morton is genuinely funny-and genuinely sexy. In fact , I will go so far as to predict that it will be a contender at Oscar time.
Can you make a courtroom drama with nary a cliched scene in the courtroom?
You can. Can you make a mystery "whodunit" without a cliched flashback
sequence showing us what REALLY happened? You can, and David Mamet has done
it. This brilliantly gentle movie is a true work of genius. I am not
familiar with the play on which it is based, nor of the other 3 previous
filmed versions, so I cannot tell how much of the brilliance is already in
the words and actions of the actors on stage. However, this movie pleased
and delighted me beyond my expectations.
If you told me that David Mamet were to make a film without any four-letter words, and that would be rated G, I would tell you you're crazy. Yet he's done it. For once he allows looks and glances to speak volumes instead of the usual foul language that overfilled his previous films to the point of satire.
Nigel Hawthorne is wonderful as always as the father of The Winslow Boy, who makes it his life's concern to clear his son's name of stealing and forgery after the lad is expelled from school. But Jeremy Northam is the surprising standout as the lawyer who takes the case. The scene where he grills the young boy about what really happened is Oscar-calibre. Jeremy is not only incredible looking, he can act!
Do yourself a favor and see this movie before it disappears from the screen!
Mamet's adaptation of "The Winslow Boy" is a marvelous mixture of classic
Mamet "speak" (the use of repeated words and phases and, in some instances,
repeated use of a character's name) and situations (Sir Robert Morton's
fellow MP's urging him to accept defeat on his motion for a Petition of
Right) with complete respect and preserving the integrity of Terence
Rattigan's story of establishment Edwardian England at war with itself, lit
with the pre-dawn of the First World War and the Modern
The setting of a middle class family confronted with the immensely difficult decision to not accept the "process", but buck the system and its inertia and do what they think right, not regardless of the cost, but, much more difficult, after careful consideration of the cost couldn't be more contemporary. And, although I am not naive enough to think that right will always be done, it was good to see that it is done every once in awhile. I came away reinvigorated and refreshed in the power and the rightness of ensuring to the best of my and all of our abilities that right is done.
I have been a fan of David Mamet's work ever since I saw the film
Glen Ross." His ear for dialogue and eye for human weakness have always
fascinated me. And though his films may seem rather different--he's
the elegant "The Spanish Prisoner" as well as the action/adventure "The
Edge"--all of them are about characters who play everything close to the
vest; their dialogue always hides their true motivations and
So it is really no surprise that Mamet chose to adapt Terence Rattigan's play "The Winslow Boy." It too is about characters who shroud their feelings and beliefs. But where this deviates from his previous works is that all, or at least most, of the characters are aware of the deception. Some of the scenes between Rebecca Pidgeon and Jeremy Northam are spoken almost in code. It's really quite amazing.
This is certainly David Mamet's finest piece to date, and he has become a truly excellent director. The acting is first rate, especially Jeremy Northam as famous barrister Sir Robert Morton. And Mamet's writing presence is felt throughout, as he no doubt altered some of the dialogue to suit his patented rapid-fire exchanges.
In a time when most of the movies out are special effects monstrosities that feel empty and lack any sense of humanity (though I admit that I really liked "The Mummy"), it is refreshing to find a film that is so vibrantly alive. I loved "The Winslow Boy," and I can't recommend it enough.
Oh, and if you're not smiling at the conclusion, which is one of the most satisfying in film history, then I'm fairly certain you've no heart at all.
this is another directing attempt by David Mamet, and as usual he uses
it as a vehicle to employ the mainly unemployable actors in his family.
in most of his directorial projects he has produced films so stiff and wooden, and it amazes me that he sometimes finds excellent actors to appear in them. and it must be because as bad a director as he is, he can be just as brilliant a writer.
i think Mamet chose, this time, a stiff cultural period which would hide his wooden direction, and his wife's poor acting. and it worked to a degree.
the problem is that Mamet has gone to england and short circuited a perfect machine for turning out perfect period pieces. it is what the English film industry does best.
his direction has sedated actors, worthy of giving a lively performance, and inspired little more than a walk-through of the lines: sedately matching the abilities of his wife.
it all ends up in a mediocre effort. i wish Mamet should stick to writing, but he probably arrogantly believes he is the only director that can do justice to his words. interviews i've seen by the man, back this belief.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS - The primary theme of Mamet's version of "The Winslow Boy" is that
men will do all sorts of things, some very strange, for their search for a
mate. In the end, Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam) sticks with the case,
and wins, because of his deep attraction for the sister, Catherine, expertly
played by Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon. Nepotism takes a further step in
using Rebecca's real brother, Matthew, as her brother in the film. However,
he does a fine job, and we have no difficulty picturing them as brother and
"The Winslow Boy", based on a stage play, had been done 4 times previously on film, the first in 1948. It is set in early 1900s, before the first big war, and the "boy" is expelled from military school, accused of stealing and cashing a money order through forgery. He tells dad "I didn't do it", dad believes him, enlists Sir Morton to handle his case. Catherine's fiancee, a military man, jilts her during the process, under pressure from his father. All very proper British.
At the end, the "boy" reacts, "We won. How about that?" Leaves open the question of whether he really was guilty. Nonetheless, the story is not about his guilt nor his innocence. It is about the effect such a turmoil has on a family, and potential relationships. Catherine vows to continue her feminist activities, and Sir Morton vows to see her again. Ah, the power of women on seemingly strong men!!
A good film from Mamet. And, I really do like Rebecca Pidgeon. Outside Mamet's films, she is an underrated actor.
A 1910 English period piece with excellent actors, acting, screenplay, etc. and Mamet at the helm, this story about doing the right thing; about the clockworks of an English family; about misdeed and trial; about stilted courtship; etc., and high marks from critics and viewers alike, "The Winslow Boy" can be easily recommended for everyone mature enough to understand the subject matter. Hence, the question should be...why not watch it?
I generally like the dialogue in David Mamet's films very much, and "The
Winslow Boy" is no disappointment in that respect. The dialogue is quick,
intelligent, and skillfully layered. The lighting also is a surprise--quite
expressive and textured for a "little" historical film.
Even so, the emotions in this film are so repressed that there is very little dynamic at all to the drama. While the performances are all good, I found the boy's character to be less compelling than the rest of the cast; this problem is compounded by the fact that is is hardly on the screen at all during the second half of the film, which gives us even less opportunity to connect with him.
But the biggest (dramatically speaking) problem I had with the film is that the major plot point--the courtroom scenes and the ultimate legal decision--is played totally off screen! It seemed as though, rather than dramatizing the story of "The Winslow Boy", Mamet decided at some point to instead angle for the romantic interest between the lawyer and the Winslow sister, as well as her struggle for women's suffrage. Admittedly, these were interesting developments, but they both proved to be dead ends that only served to dilute the overall effect.
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