Withnail & I (1987)

Director – Bruce Robinson

Writer – Bruce Robinson

“I demand to have some booze!” Not quite The Wild Boys, but wild enough for quaint, old 1960s Home Counties England, as uttered from the eloquently guttural mouth of Withnail, a resplendent Richard E. Grant on razor sharp form, spilling his artistic actor’s ego all over the screen, supported by the amicable, if slightly unhinged, And I, otherwise known as Marwood, played charmingly by Paul McGann. The classic lines and moments erupt with frequent regularity, and also hilarity, giving us some of the most eminently quotable film lines of all time.

Withnail and Marwood are two out of work actors living in a decrepit flat in London in 1969 with no foreseeable future. There are rats in the washing up bowl (“The entire sink’s gone rotten.”) and strange men threatening them for wearing perfume in a pub (“Perfumed ponce.”).

The proceedings are enlivened by the ebullient presence of Uncle Monty, Richard Griffiths giving a bravura performance that sweeps us and the dispossessed duo along in its wake (“I mean to have you even if it must be burglary.”), offering them a holiday retreat by way of a momentary escape. Monty’s love of vegetables knows no bounds, but he has somewhat ulterior motives that become clearer in due course. The smaller roles are equally enchanting and hilarious, such as Danny the Dealer (Ralph Brown) and his insights about lifelike dolls and the origins of the Camberwell Carrot, and Jake the Farmer (Michael Elphick) providing a spot of lunch for the boys.

The film captures its period perfectly, denoting a run down Britain at the end of the sixties that has totally lost itself. It even attempts to find what it is looking for, but with a pithy, poignant conclusion.

This film is another national treasure from HandMade Films. “We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!”

You can own Withnail & I on DVD right here!


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