I was at times underwhelmed by David Mamet’s latest effort as both writer and director. Adapted from the play by Terence Rattigan, the film is a slow moving examination of events precipitated by a young boy’s expulsion from a military academy after he is accused of a theft. The boy’s father, sure of his son’s innocence and indignant at the smear upon the family name, fights for years to win against an uncaring system, and in doing so puts the family under financial and emotional strain.
Mamet loves to cast his current wives in lead roles, as he did with Lindsay Crouse in “House of Games,” who is so detached she almost ruins the film. In “Winslow,” the latest spouse to benefit from her husband’s name is Rebecca Pidgeon, who plays the pivotal role of young Winslow’s older suffragette sister with completely flat affect. Whatever you may feel about Mamet’s writing, he has an uncanny knack for marrying mediocre actresses.
Smart performances are turned in by Jeremy Northam (“Emma”) as the family’s expensive and handsome barrister, Gemma Jones (“The Devils”) as the nobly suffering mother, and Nigel Hawthorn (“The Madness of King George”) commands the screen as the family patriarch.
Benont Delhomme’s cinematography is crisp, clean, and emphasizes the rich earth tones and natural lighting of the Winslow home. Delhomme is a genuis, and his work has been seen notably in Tran Anh Hung’s remarkable “Cyclo,” and he lensed Mike Figgis’ latest work, “The Loss of Sexual Innocence.”