The Winslow Boy

Bomb Rating: 

Ultimately, the film demonstrates that Mamet without profanity is like pornography without nudity.

Excise the part of David Mamet's brain that imagines every interaction in life involves middle-aged men screaming "fuck you" at each other and what you end up with is "The Winslow Boy," a prim and proper British drama about a young navel cadet accused of stealing a five shilling postal order. Ultimately, the film demonstrates that Mamet without profanity is like pornography without nudity.

The only way this film could have possibly redeemed itself is if the young cadet revealed in the very end that he had been hiding the postal order in his anus. Somehow I gathered that this would never happen since the British are not widely known for hiding things in their anuses.

Instead, what we get is this long, drawn out story of how the boy's father (Nigel Hawthorne) persists in bringing his son's case to court, which challenged the notion of the time, 1910, that a British citizen could not sue the crown. With the help of his daughter (Rebecca Pidgeon), the father hires one of the country's leading lawyers, Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam), to defend his son.

As with most British dramas the word drama is used in the same sort of loose way that William Shatner might use the word "acting." You think there's all sorts of tension - between Pidgeon and Northam, Hawthorne and poverty, and between the boy and the truth - but usually it all just results in somebody gritting their teeth and changing the subject, a physical and emotional response that has apparently followed every significant historical event in British history.

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