Watch The Winslow Boy
In the early 20th century, a middle-class family in London is rocked by the scandalous accusation against their son, Ronnie, of stealing a five-shilling postal order from a fellow classmate. Based on a 1946 play by Terence Rattigan, The Winslow Boy, directed by David Mamet, tells a story of a family's determination to restore their son's name and clear his reputation in the face of the formidable British establishment.
Arthur Winslow (Nigel Hawthorne), retired and financially comfortable, is the patriarch of the Winslow family. The eldest of his three children, Ronnie (Guy Edwards), is a cadet at the Royal Naval College in nearby Osborne, and the pride and joy of the family. After Ronnie receives a letter of expulsion from the naval college, Arthur confronts him with suspicion, and Ronnie confesses that he is being accused of stealing a postal order from a fellow cadet. Despite Ronnie's protestations of innocence, the Royal Navy refuses to reconsider his case, and the Winslows are forced to decide how to act.
Arthur, with the support of his wife Grace (Gemma Jones), a former suffragette, decides to take legal action against the Admiralty and hires the famous barrister Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam) to represent Ronnie. Over the course of the film, the motives and methods of each character are revealed, and the viewer is left to ponder the ethics of justice and the individual freedom versus the power of the government.
The outspoken Morton, initially disinterested in the case, sees a challenge in the media-driven sensation surrounding the Winslow family's take on the matter. While his high-class colleagues express open contempt for the case, Morton undertakes the expensive and time-consuming legal battle, facing formidable opponents in the form of the British political establishment and the press, who are entirely unsympathetic to the Winslow's plight. Meanwhile, Ronnie's mental state begins to deteriorate under the weight of public shame and anticipation, and the Winslow's younger daughter Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon) becomes increasingly involved in the family's fight for justice.
The Winslow Boy is notable for its exquisite attention to period detail and the quality of the performances by the ensemble cast. The screenplay by Mamet is faithful to the spirit of Rattigan's original play, and the film's production design and costumes convey the general atmosphere of pre-World War I London. The Winslow Boy is a thoughtful film that sets out to question the notion of authority, responsibility, and justice in British society. With its compelling storyline and well-crafted characters, the movie would appeal to viewers who enjoy historical dramas, legal dramas, or thought-provoking films.
The Winslow Boy is a 1999 drama. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 79.