The Wonderful World Of Mamet

I’ve been thinking about The Winslow Boy a lot recently.  It’s one of my favorite dramas, actually.  My love of the movie has far less to do with its setting (early 20th century England) than with its screenplay author and director, David Mamet.

I’ve grown to enjoy Mamet’s work more over time, even though much of it is rife with profanity (in fact, an article about him said that he uses the f-word so much in his writing that it’s known as the ‘Mamet-word’).  However, Mamet uses realistic dialogue, and has a good eye for cinematography.

He is probably better known as a screenwriter–he won awards for Glengarry Glen Ross–but he’s a wonderful director as well.  This comes out in The Winslow Boy.  The movie is a little stagey at first, but that’s not surprising since it’s based on a play, and it’s dealing with the rather ordinary lives of the Winslow family.  The opening scene has the family all returning from church and discussing topics ranging from the sermon to when their guests will arrive.

The meat of the story is about the youngest member of the Winslow family, Ronnie, who is supposed to be away at school.  The family soon finds out that he’s been expelled for something he claims not to have done.  This is the impetus of the movie–the father and the older sister make it their goal to see that justice is done.

This might sound like a bit of a drag, but The Winslow Boy is a wonderful movie.  It has a good script, good acting, crisp dialogue, believable characters, and some rather dry English humor.  It’s interesting that a man from Chicago was able to capture all of that so well.  And that’s why I like David Mamet.