The Winslow Boy – 4 stars

The Winslow Boy. David Mamet’s period piece about an Edwardian scandal is sharp and deep. A proper, emotionally serene English family strives to clear the name of a family member from what they perceive as a slander (the youngest son is accused of the theft of 5 shillings and expelled from navy school). The father (Nigel Hawthorne of The Madness of King George) is an eccentric banker who sacrifices the family’s position (financial and otherwise) to clear his son’s name. His daughter (Rebecca Pidgeon) is a suffragette engaged to a military man. As the scandal envelops the family, her social life is shattered.

The family engages the services of Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam), a leading barrister and politician who opposes women’s suffrage but finds himself inexorably drawn to the case and Pidgeon. What follows is a psychological study of the ties of family and the limits of honor as well as a satisfying courtroom drama.

The dialogue is understated, which is rare for Mamet, but it is still rhythmic. Mamet treats each character, major and minor, with dignity. There are no fops or fools. Everyone is multi-faceted and thus, interesting.

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