Following the theft of a postal-order, a fourteen-year old cadet is expelled from Naval College. To save the honour of the boy and his family, the pre-eminent barrister of the day is engaged to take on the might the Admiralty.
Early 20th century England: while toasting his daughter Catherine's engagement, Arthur Winslow learns the royal naval academy expelled his 14-year-old son, Ronnie, for stealing five shillings. Father asks son if it is true; when the lad denies it, Arthur risks fortune, health, domestic peace, and Catherine's prospects to pursue justice. After defeat in the military court of appeals, Arthur and Catherine go to Sir Robert Morton, a brilliant, cool barrister and M.P., who examines Ronnie and suggests that they take the matter before Parliament to seek permission to sue the Crown. They do, which keeps Ronnie's story on the front page and keeps Catherine in Sir Robert's ken.Written by
Not only do this movie and An Ideal Husband (1999) feature Jeremy Northam as a character named "Sir Robert", but his performances in those movies also won him the same two awards (Evening Standard British Film Award's "Best Actor" and ALFS Award's "British Actor of the Year"). See more »
Reflected in the cab window as Mr. Curry gets out. See more »
You don't behave as if you are in love.
How does one behave as if one is in love?
[Looks at the book Catherine is reading]
One doesn't read "The Social Evil and The Social Good." One reads Lord Byron.
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Excellent story but the main drama is sometimes only alluded to and not seen
Arthur Winslow is the head of a respectable London family, however this threatens to change when his young son is expelled from military school for stealing a postal order worth 5 shillings. Winslow risks his wealth and his family to pursue justice for his son. However when the military court of appeal rejects him he has to appeal to the highest court in the land through MP Sir Morton.
A turn of the century English drama may not be the subject you'd expect Mamet to tackle but here he does and he brings his usual skill for writing with him. The characters are very well developed and manage to be very easy to get to know even with the very polite and guarded dialogue. The characters and dialogue need to be good because much of the drama takes place in stilted conversations or off-screen. The plot managed to keep me fascinated throughout due to the strong original story and the good writing. Sadly the film loses something by keeping the main drama off screen (the court cases etc) and this can be quite annoying and slightly sullies the water.
The talented cast has plenty to work with and do very well indeed. Hawthorne revels in this type of role and does the gradual decline very well. Northam, Pidgeon, Jones etc do well all manage to deliver very Merchant-Ivory style performances without having the cold edge that those films tend to have. This is partly Mamet's writing and direction but also the talents of a good cast.
Overall this is not typical Mamet fare and many of his fans may struggle with the sheer Englishness of it, but those not put off will find that the characters and dialogue are as strong as ever and the story is gripping even if the off-screen action sometimes appears to be more interesting that what we are allowed to see.
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