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|Index||119 reviews in total|
This is a well-made little movie with excellent performances all
around. It is not exactly a courtroom drama or a comedy of manners. It
shows how a crisis of honor in a family affects all its members and
even the maid.
The atmosphere brings one back to Britain just before the Great War. The costumes are great, but it is the acting and the dialogue which give this film life.
Ronnie, the youngest son, has been accused of stealing a five cent postage package. His father believes in his innocence and risks his health and his fortune to pursue justice. He hires Sir Jeremy Norton, the most renowned barrister in England to take the case.
Sir Jeremy seems like a cold fish, but appearances are deceiving. Watch The Winslow Boy for some top notch entertainment.
This is an adaptation of a play by David Mamet which he also directs.
Unusually it does not feature con artists, a favourite area that Mamet
likes to re-visit.
The film where a family wants to clear the name of their almost 14 year old boy who has been dismissed from the naval academy for stealing a postal order is all about performances, there is very little visual trickery but good use id made of sets, lighting, music and direction.
The actors are very much at the fore of the performance with Jeremy Northam as the Barrister delivering the goods as someone who believes in the boy's innocence but seems distant and uninvolved. In some cases he got the role of the barrister in the pre World War 2 era very much spot on. Its all about the law and proving your case.
Nigel Hawthorne does well as the father of the family who might be on the edge of financial ruin as he fights to clear his son's name. It might be viewed the Hawthorne would be too old to play a father of a 14 year old lad although his other children are older.
Rebecca Pidgeon who in other roles comes across as uninspired especially when she plays tough Americans is more comfortable here as the radical sister of the accused who also suffers loss as her engagement is broken because of the fight to clear her brother's name.
Its a brave undertaking to adapt a Rattigan play on the screen and Mamet has done very well in making the film watchable and highlighting the mores of the time.
A proud father goes to great lengths to defend his son's honor in this latest movie version of Terence Rattigan's play The Winslow Boy (itself based on the true story of George Archer-See), written and directed by David Mamet one of the most respected screenwriters working today. I am unfamiliar with the play or its several other adaptations so I can't compare, and I'll judge this film based solely on itself. What's unusual with The Winslow Boy is that it's a court movie which hardly spends any time actually in court, concentrating instead on how the case affects the lives of the Winslow family, and in particular the father Arthur (Nigel Hawthorne) and the daughter Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon). As such the ultimate resolution of the Winslow case is actually of little importance to the movie, like a bit of a side story, something which may be quite off-putting to some viewers who'd perhaps find it boring and/or pointless. All in all, while The Winslow Boy isn't a masterpiece of epic proportions it's a very well-made solid little film who's greatest strength is probably the excellent performances all across the board.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A drawing room, period, study of manners, domestic drama, if you will... The drama is admittedly light, centring on the impact of a teenage son's expulsion from naval college and the truth or otherwise of this occurrence. Strangely enough, you never get to learn whether the boy was actually guilty or not of his "crime" - although he gets off, it's never fully resolved and could be attributed to the superior advocacy of his attorney - sadly still a predilection in modern society. However the dramatic content could have been increased with some kind of courtroom climax, or confession, but now I'm arguing with the original play, hardly the fault of David Mamet or his actors. The Edwardian, pre War "golden - era" is nicely evoked with the big house, coterie of servants and upper - class manners of the family, although contemporary influences such as suffragetism (strongly) and the approaching war (mildly) are referred to. I'm not sure Mamet properly and fully brought home the "sensational" aspect of the Winslow case on the British public, even as I appreciated his subtlety in demonstrating this via newspaper hoardings, contemporary cartoons and the like. He does however marshall his acting troupe well. Nigel Hawthorne shines as the patriarch who sacrifices the wants and needs of his wider family for the sake of clearing his son's name. I didn't get the impression that it was the family name he was defending and genuinely believe it was for his youngest son's future which concerned him, which is as it should be. I'm not quite sure however that Hawthorne seems just too old to have fathered the boy. The rest of the cast play very well although some of their roles seem stereotypical and perhaps more could have been made of the interfamily tensions...but again that takes us back to Rattigan's source material. Mamet this time, quite rightly eschews all opportunity to contemporise the play and his cinematic devices are subtly reined in, no overlapping dialogue or sharp cross-cutting here. I liked the utilisation of the swinging garden gate at the start of the film, letting in the "bad" from outside, which recalled to mind J.B. Priestley's "An Inspector Calls". How often English dramatists seemed to write about the so called idyllic society of the upper classes breaking down...nothing lasts forever it seems. Anyway, in summary, a wordy piece, well shot, well played but ultimately probably best enjoyed as a stage play.
This outstanding film focusing on issues of justice in England, is both very well written and extremely well acted. It is taken from a Terrance Rattigan play of the same name (if you are not familiar with him, watch The Browning Version, especially the older black and white). It is 1911 and the middle class is expanding it clout in the final days before the Great War (after which all was lost for decades in wars, depression and loss of empire). Thirteen year old Ronnie is accused of being dishonest and scrubbed from an elite boys school operated by the British Navy. His family is quick to defend his right to a trial, etc., although, oddly and unfortunately, the boy, so central to the plot, has little say in all the events that happen to him or the political and legal battles fought for him. While really a play in movie form, the quick paced witty dialog, the well crafted shots and the excitement of the outcome allows this story to more than holds its own, making the film a pleasure to watch. The older black and white version is regarded as a classic as well. Interestingly, the actor who played Ronnie in the 1948 version plays the head of the Admiralty in this one.
It makes me want to go out and have babies, just so that they could be raised on this movie and the morality behind it. I would also make sure that I was first married to the babies' father of course or I'd have learned nothing from this masterpiece! I'd even be up for giving birth to a Jeremy Northam clone.
This film is a masterpiece. Mamet has outdone himself. The acting is brilliant. A historical movie about a court case without going into the court itself. Mamet has brilliantly reversed the sacred movie law "don't tell them, show them" into "don't show them, tell them". And this takes place in early 20th century Engand, a place and time where people show no emotions. This results into much emotionless talking - on the surface. The script and the acting create so much tension and emotions that I have only one word for it: brilliant. I have always been fascinated by Mamet, but never been quite satisfacted by his movies. This is the first time I realize he is truly a genious.
Beautifully portrayed film that enlightens modern day viewers of Edwardian England's middle class without the cloying sentimentality of a Merchant Ivory production. I can find no fault with a movie that engages me from the first scene to the last and keeps me wanting for more when the credits are rolling at the end. Not only a great period film, but a film that understands the human psyche... The blase attitude of Ronnie at the end is the expected reaction of a 14 year old boy who doesn't fathom the situation that has changed his family forever. And the sexual tension between Catherine and Sir Robert is best left, and more realistically left, as is...One word - BRILLIANT!
"The Winslow Boy" reminds me much of the critical hit of the same year,
"Topsy-Turvy". Set in an upper-middle class Edwardian household, instead of
the London theater of a generation earlier, "The Winslow Boy" contains the
same attention to historical detail, excellent screenwriting (focusing on
dialogue), and great acting. While "The Winslow Boy" lacks the richness and
depth of Leigh's masterpiece, it has a more focused story to tell. The
youngest son of the Winslow's, 14-year old Ronnie (the Winslow boy of the
title), has been kicked out of military school for theft and forgery. The
family believes in his innocence, and decides to clear his name despite all
odds. It is a courtroom drama with little to no courtroom action scenes. The
real story is around the edges, and asks the question: As the work and
expense of the task takes it's toll, what price is expected of the others
just to clear the boy's name?
David Mamet has created a wonderful 'little' movie that definitely entertains, and loses nothing on the small screen. I recommend it highly.
Whilst truly not a masterpiece, don't be fooled by ignorant reviewers
comparisons to Matlock. This film is enjoyable merely for it's use of the
language, and more so for it's understated exploration of an upper class
English family under stress.
Definitely not for those who thought Sixth Sense was "brilliant" or those who generally enjoy modern Hollywood nonsense. But if you like the BBC, Nigel Hawthorne, or literature, you will appreciate "Winslow."
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