Withnail and I
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London. The 60s. Two unemployed actors-acerbic, elegantly wasted Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and the anxiety-ridden "I" (Paul McGann)-drown their frustrations in booze, pills, and lighter fluid. When Withnail's Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) offers his cottage, they escape the squalor of their flat for a week in the country. They soon realize they've gone on holiday by mistake when their wits-and friendship-are sorely tested by violent downpours, less-than-hospitable locals, and empty cupboards. An intelligent, superbly acted, and hilarious film, The Criterion Collection is proud to present Bruce Robinson's semi-autobiographical cult favorite in its complete and uncut version.
- Uncut widescreen version, supervised by director of photography Peter Hannan
- Rare pre-production photos by Ralph Steadman
- Limited-edition collectible poster of the original film art by Ralph Steadman
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I had returned from a trip to London in '03, and became reacquainted with the film during a few cold rainy days of repeats on some cable channel as I was recovering from my trip, and the depression that often follows. I'm really not sure why I like the films plot other than it's a snapshot in the life of two out of work actors, and the soggy adventure they have over a weekend spent at a country cottage owned by Withnail's Uncle Monty. A couple of other interesting characters lend interest and humour at the end of the film, and serve to underscore the last year of the 1960's. It is a very nostalgic and funny look into that period when England was suffering economically, and the drugs movement was still so predominant. The dialogue is classic, and the music is perfect for the somber and yet humorous tone, especially the score. The ending is perfect, and I'm not sure what Richard Grant's character is quoting, but it does the job. However, if one isn't accustomed to British English, he or she might have to put on the closed caption and curl up sometime with a book of British slang and expressions.
It's very nice on blu-ray, but one has to crank the sound for the dialogue, and tone it down for the music, and that's a complaint I have with a couple of other blu-rays.
Very amusing and touching portrayal of late sixties drug era london.
Grant is hysterical and reminded us all of our good friend, Kerry.
While his favorite thing about the movie was how dirty the main characters were.
Probably the best use of a Hendrix song in any soundtrack - as a wrecking ball destroys a building at the opening chords of "all along the watchtower".
though I have to say after the many years it's been since I last saw it - the characters are a bit over the top - almost as if they are on a stage - Grant pulls off some of the most likeable verble ejaculations, but it's their drug addled friend Daniel who steals the show.
I forgot to mention the lovely british countryside and the hilarious improbable love trist... but you'll see.
drugs and rock and roll -- and unemployment were the themes and as such were those same themes we all were reliving 20 years to the future of this story.
This criterion collection is a wonderful loving release - and I've long waited for it!
I love how the movie starts. The two lads of the title ("I" is not named in the film) are two out-of-work actors in a serious rut. One morning "I" leaves the squalid apartment he shares with Withnail to seek sustenance (he's suffering the effects of booze and pills) at a nearby dive, but he's appalled by the disgusting food, the downtrodden patrons and the lurid tabloid headlines he glimpses from a neighbor's newspaper. He bolts from the place and heads back home, eager to discuss his insights into the miserable human condition with Withnail. But his pal's only concern is the lack of booze in the apartment. Meanwhile, the deteriorating state of this humble abode can no longer be ignored -- rats seem to have taken up residence amid the dirty dishes and rotting food in the kitchen, and basic necessities like heat are lacking. After a futile attempt to clean the kitchen, the two venture outside for some fresh air. Oh, but it is not the most pleasant of seasons in London. The clammy, drizzly weather further deflates their spirits. The local pub provides a brief respite until a thug threatens to beat them up, sending them scurrying out the door.
But there is hope! Withnail's eccentric Uncle Monty loans them the key to his country house. A brief vacation in the country will surely get them out of the doldrums and help them forget that they haven't landed jobs in quite some time. Of course the holiday isn't as peaceful as planned. It's actually a nightmare, and the locals they meet up with are a tad eccentric.
The script of this film (originally released in 1986) by writer-director Bruce Robinson keeps the funny lines coming one after another. Indeed, as other reviewers have noted, this is one of the most quotable movies ever, and I've managed to avoid mentioning a single one of them! You really must see this movie if you're a fan of acerbic British wit.
Richard Grant is the bitter and always overly dramatic Withnail; Paul McGann is the saner counterpart to Withnail and provides the often humorous (but not overused) narration; and who could forget Richard Griffiths' great turn as Uncle Monty. Robinson says in the commentary that the film is badly shot, but I respectfully disagree. Despite the meager budget, Robinson does a fine job capturing the time and place (late 1960s England) and setting the mood for this film in various shots(the grimy apartment, the dreary streets of London, dark pubs, brief glimpses of beauty in the countryside, etc.).
As funny as this movie is, there's an undercurrent of sadness. The two lead characters are struggling to find their way, and it becomes apparent that they're headed in opposite directions. The film ends with Withnail bidding farewell to his friend (who has finally landed a lead role in a play) in a downpour and quoting Hamlet, something you know he'll never be doing on the stage. Robinson says that he considered a far darker ending, which you can find out by watching the commentary of this great movie.