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IN SHORT: An intelligently entertaining, immaculately crafted film.
Serious film time, folks. The Winslow Boy is the story of a boy expelled from the Royal Naval Academy for stealing and encashing a postal money order. To defend his honor, his family sacrifices all to bring the matter before a proper court, and in the process stirs up a nation, setting aristocrat against commoner and making allies of political conservatives and radicals. The time is 1910 and all the fireworks (reporters camped at the door; protesters at the gate, and so forth) occur off-screen as we watch a number of intricate verbal dances, all of which define relationships and purpose of the characters.
Cranky is starting to write like a film student. Forgive me. It's the only way to write up The Winslow Boy, which will find a place at the head of the arthouse table.
Like last year's A Merry War, which vanished without a trace, The Winslow Boy tells a number of tiny tales and portrays one of the things I find most amazing about the English upper-middle and upper class. They are so genteel and proper that, even when enflamed by political passion, they maintain an even disposition. Not a voiced is raised one decibel in anger, which tends to make the amusing moments all the more funny in a story whose subject matter is not funny at all.
Ronnie Winslow (Guy Edwards) has been accused of theft and forgery. His father (Nigel Hawthorne), a middle class bank manager, who knows that a military career can elevate the boy's status, devotes the family fortune to the defense, enlisting the preeminent lawyer of the realm, Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam). Morton is a Conservative opposed to trade unions and female suffrage, both of which are near and dear to the heart of Ronnie's sister Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon). The conflict inherent in that situation alone would normally lead to fireworks in any David Mamet screenplay, but The Winslow Boy is, as I've said, an English tale and Mamet's adaptation of the original play by Terrence Rattigan is decidedly English in feeling.
Other situations that play out around this core include the longtime love of the family's lawyer, Desmond Curry (Colin Stinton) for Catherine, who could care less. For Catherine, age 30 looms and her financial dowry has evaporated under the costs of the trial, can she turn down his overtures? There are also stories involving an older brother who's just shy of ne'er do well and a maid with 24 years of service to the family who always seems to spill the secrets too soon.
Cranky went to see The Winslow Boy, honestly, because he couldn't believe a David Mamet effort could land a [G] rating. That being said, The Winslow Boy is decidedly adult in character (that means you teenkids won't care less) and provides a quite enjoyable story, with performances to match.
Bearing in mind that the better art films don't fare well under the standard rating system; On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Winslow Boy, he would have paid . . .
The aforementioned A Merry War took down $5. The Winslow Boy is many shades higher due to the extra storylines that play out. Hopefully this film will not follow the path that the former did.
28 Weeks Later
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