The Winslow Boy

Dir: David Mamet
Starring: Nigel Hawthorne, Rebecca Pidgeon, Jeremy Northam, Gemma Jones

Based on a play by Terence Rattigan, this isn't at first an obvious project for David Mamet. However, it does provide the chance for razor-sharp dialogue at which he excels, despite - or perhaps because of - the repressed Edwardian setting, far removed from the underbelly con-games of many of his other films. Hawthorne plays Arthur Winslow, whose son is expelled from naval college for stealing a postal order. Winslow then embarks on a pyrrhic crusade for justice, despite the reservations and variable support of his family. In particular, his wife wants to save her son from the publicity, while daughter Catherine (Pidgeon) has qualms about slimy lawyer Sir Robert Morton (Northam). However, as often in Mamet movies, things aren't quite as they appear at first - the boy's innocence first seems certain, then doubtful, but in the end is almost irrelevant. Northam and Hawthorne are excellent, both bringing depth to characters who at first seem like stereotypes, while Pidgeon appears much more at home in a period drama than, for example, State and Main. Mamet also admirably avoids the predictable court-room heroics, in favour of a film where emotions may turn on a word or a look - yet are no less intense for it.


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