The Winslow Boy Movie Poster Image

The Winslow Boy



Dialogue-heavy period drama too slow for most tweens.
  • Review Date: October 23, 2009
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

With no evidence to support the teen's claim to innocence besides his word, the family sacrifices significant time, effort, and money to uphold his honor. The message that children are to be believed and that their dignity is something worth fighting for is powerful.

Positive role models

Each character is devoted to his cause and passionate about doing the right thing. The daughter is a suffragette and she defends her position with strength. She's clearly very intelligent and engaged in the legal process, and she's also able to realize when her prejudices have led her astray.


Background references to war and the military. A few emotionally tense scenes, including parents arguing in front of teen.


One brief passionate kiss between adults. One discussion about adult man fooling around with adult woman.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Near constant smoking, though in a historical context. The young woman prides herself on "indulging" in smoking cigarettes to prove herself a feminist. Occasional drinking by adults.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this period drama is almost completely chaste. An adult couple shares one passionate kiss, and there is some discussion about adults embracing romantically, but otherwise the film relies on subtle romantic tension. The pre-World War I setting references the military and the possibility of war, but only as a background element.

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What's the story?

Based on a play, which was based on a true story, this early 20th century drama focuses on a family's battle to clear a teenage boy's name. As a young cadet, the teen is accused of forgery and theft and expelled from his military school. But after giving his father his word that he is innocent, the family stages a years-long effort to vindicate the boy in the courts and in the media. While the legal ordeal drains the family's bank accounts and threatens its reputation -- even ruining the suffragette daughter's engagement -- the family finds a savior in a legal advocate and a potential new mate for the daughter.

Is it any good?


This film is a subtle study of character, and those familiar with the work of David Mamet will recognize the elaborate use of dialogue to draw out the drama inherent in the characters. While the plot is very simple, the interaction and development of the individuals is what gives the film its richness. That said, it's a nuanced and rather slow-moving film that will not appeal to everyone, especially tweens and teens with a short attention span.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about honesty. In the movie, the boy claims he is innocent of the charge against him. Have you ever been accused of something you didn't do?

  • How does the boy make his family believe him?

  • Why does the family sacrifice so much just to prove the boy's innocence?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 16, 1999
DVD release date:February 1, 2000
Cast:Jeremy Northam, Nigel Hawthorne, Rebecca Pidgeon
Director:David Mamet
Studio:Sony Pictures
Character strengths:Integrity
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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