Picks and Pans Review: The Winslow Boy
David Mamet, who normally peppers his plays and movies with four-letter words, staccato phrasing and scheming con artists, here sets up shop in a stuffy English drawing room in 1912 far more comfortably than one would have expected. The Winslow Boy, as written and directed by Mamet, is a crisp adaptation of British playwright Terence Rattigan's venerable 1946 drama about a father's fight to clear his son's name after the boy is kicked out of military school on forgery charges.
Set during an era when politesse ruled, Winslow is a moral drama in which what is not said is as important as what is—and that can be a tricky business for actors. Accomplishing it best here are Hawthorne and Jones as the boy's parents and Northam (Emma), who's both sexy and sharp as the blue-blooded barrister arguing the boy's case. Less successful is Pidgeon (Mamet's wife) as the youth's sister. She has an irritating way of superciliously snapping out her lines as if ordering a butcher to slice special cuts. (G)
Bottom Line: Tale of a boy's wrongful expulsion gets high marks