The Winslow Boy
- David Mamet
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, September 26, 2001
In 20th century England, the very well-respected Winslow family faces adversity when the youngest son is expelled from school after an accusation of having stolen a five shilling postal order. He claims he didn’t do it, and his father (Nigel Hawthorne) believes him. The situation then turns into a fight for honor, as the Winslow family is not willing to permit such an injustice at all costs. Despite the discontent of feminist daughter Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon), the family is forced to require the services of Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam).
There’s something special going on when you know a movie is a courtroom drama and a romantic tale (both aspects can clearly be perceived from the get-go) but neither a trial nor a romance per sè are ever shown. I was jazzed by the way it worked so well. Talk about subtlety...
The Winslow Boy is about many things but at the same time it remains simple till the end. Of course, it is also clever and well-written. You can feel Mamet’s touch at every turn. The dialogue is sharp and the movie keeps surprising without being too showy.
But of course, at the core this is a movie about honor and dignity, about an era where those words meant everything. It is about the struggle for the truth. It asks a question about how essential it is to claim for justice and how far should one be willing to go. It is also a battle between generations and ideas. This is a changing world. It has always been like that.
Nigel Hawthorne is excellent as the head of the family. He can be frightening and difficult, but he’s also a man with principles and a great respect for family values. He’s got to be a tower of strength even if he’s more confused and worried than everybody else. Hawthorne excels in a role that fits him perfectly. Jeremy Northam, an actor I highly esteem, is also a standout and whenever he appears on screen the movie gets livelier and more interesting. He’s excellent. All in all, The Winslow Boy is a very well-acted piece.
I won’t spoil anything for you, but I do have to mention that last scene. This movie has got one of the best endings I’ve seen in a while. Even if you think nothing else interesting is going to happen, Mamet takes a last card out of his sleeve and ends everything with a punch. That last line... a classic!
“How little you know about men.”
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