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The Winslow boy

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

From the celebrated play by Terence Rattigan comes the moving adaptation of The Winslow boy. set in 1910, it is based on the real life story of a young naval cadet who is accused of stealing a five shilling postal order. Convinced of the boy's innocence, the Winslow family persuade the country's leading lawyer, Sir Robert Morton to take on the defence [sic]. As the case proceeds, it challenges many long-accepted legal notions and sets off a national frenzy - exacting a heavy price on the family.

When Sir Robert seeks to be granted a petition from the House of Lords to be allowed to sue the Admiralty and the Crown, it sets off an unprecedented national and media frenzy.

The film stars distinguished British actor Nigel Hawthorne (The madness of King George, Yes, Prime Minister) as Arthur Winslow, the father whose relentless search for justice drives the story, Jeremy Northam as Sir Robert Morton, Rebecca Pidgeon as Catherine Winslow, Gemma Jones as Grace Winslow and Guy Edwards as Ronnie Winslow.

Prolific writer David Mamet, perhaps better known for his contemporary views on American culture, reflected in such plays as Glengarry Glen Ross and American buffalo, has chosen this period English drama as his sixth outing as a director.

This visually stunning film features strong supporting performances, superb production design and costumes, The Winslow boy is reminiscent of other well-known English character study films such as The remains of the day and Howard's end. The original play was set entirely in the drawing room of the Winslow family but the film opens up the action to show other important locations such as the House of Commons and Sir Robert Morton's office.

Screening at Cannes 99: Un certain regard category.

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Well... I was very impressed with The Winslow boy.

It's dramatic, romantic, emotional, exciting and entertaining. The plot flows like a river, charting a course between rocks and shoals, forks and straights, rapids and narrows. The direction sails across the script like a cutter on the high seas. The acting is simply superb: Nigel is brilliantly angry, affectionate and adorable; Jeremy is stiffly charming (makes Hugh Grant look laid back); Rebecca is calmly assured (until she realises that she doesn't control the universe); Gemma is quietly corsetted; Guy is endearingly distressed.

If you enjoy historically correct films, then The Winslow boy is one for you. The manners, behaviour, dress, address and ideals of the period are excellently portrayed. The characters are formal without being unapproachable, stiff without being unbending (I like to oxymoronicise).

There is a depth to this film which comes from the multiple storylines (honour, duty, romance, independence, justice) and the performances of the actors. They make The Winslow boy a joy to experience, rewarding in the most wonderful regard. if you like Emma, Sense and sensibility or Merchant Ivory, then this is a film you simply must see. If you like a dashed good story with gifted performances and intimate drama, then this is also a film you simply must see. If you like dry wit, honour and duty, then this is still a film you simply must see. So do!

Security censorship classification


Surveillance time

100 minutes (1:40 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental: Undated June 2000

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Sic means their mistake, not mine.

As instigators of the action, the Winslows are the prosecution and the Admiralty is the defence.

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