The Winslow Boy

David Mamet's gloomy adaptation of Terence Rattigan's bittersweet play is handsomely appointed and faultlessly acted, but no more alive than a well-dressed corpse. As World War I looms on England's horizon, a different kind of war is about to break out in the Winslow household. Young Ronnie Winslow (Guy Edwards) has been sacked from the Naval Academy at...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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David Mamet's gloomy adaptation of Terence Rattigan's bittersweet play is handsomely appointed and faultlessly acted, but no more alive than a well-dressed corpse. As World War I looms on England's horizon, a different kind of war is about to break out in

the Winslow household. Young Ronnie Winslow (Guy Edwards) has been sacked from the Naval Academy at Osborne, accused of a crime he swears he didn't commit: Pinching a five-shilling postal note from a fellow cadet. Convinced of his son's innocence, patriarch Arthur Winslow (Nigel Hawthorne) vows to

clear his son's name, but it's not a battle that's easily won. The Naval Academy is considered to be part of the Crown -- which, naturally, can do no wrong -- and the school can't be sued without a special dispensation from the King himself. Mr. Winslow enlists the aid of a famous attorney (Jeremy

Northam) to pursue his case against the school, at the expense of his older son's (Matthew Pidgeon) college education and his daughter's (Rebecca Pidgeon) upcoming marriage. Rattigan used a real-life incident as an entree into matters of individual honor, the price of justice and the inviolability

of the crown, and the way in which such a trivial matter as a schoolboy's missing five-shilling note could unleash a huge public outcry and cause the near-destruction of a family. But Rattingan's urbane humor, carefully wrought characterizations and subtle irony require a light touch, such as that

of director Anthony Asquith, who directed a far-superior screen-version of Rattigan's play in 1948. Mamet directs his uniformly strong cast (young Edwards is particularly good) as if they were slogging their way through an epic tragedy, and Rattigan's quiet tragedy suffocates under his

ponderousness.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: G
  • Review: David Mamet's gloomy adaptation of Terence Rattigan's bittersweet play is handsomely appointed and faultlessly acted, but no more alive than a well-dressed corpse. As World War I looms on England's horizon, a different kind of war is about to break out in… (more)

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