Withnail and I
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A corrosively funny, semiautobiographical account by writer-director Bruce Robinson (How to Get Ahead in Advertising) about a couple of destitute roommates, young actors living in drunken squalor in 1969, the twilight days of swingin' London. Withnail (the astounding Richard E. Grant in a definitive performance) is a kind of depraved, modern-day Oscar Wilde, but without the money or the manners. The "I" of the title is the younger and more impressionable Marwood (Paul McGann), who stands somewhat in awe of his scandalous, demented, hysterical pal. While on a miserable holiday in the bitterly cold and damp countryside, they stay with wealthy, corpulent "Uncle Monty" (Richard Griffiths), who takes quite a liking to young Marwood, much to his consternation. Though not well known in the United States, Withnail & I has a major cult following in England. It's uproariously funny in a peculiarly British way, and the acting is absolutely scintillating. (Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert said Griffiths's was the best performance by an actor in a British film since Denholm Elliott in A Room with a View.) This one's a real treat for the caustic at heart. --Jim Emerson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film itself is a joy to experience. While the plot cannot be accused of being overcomplicated, this simplicity is more than made up for in the wonderful characters and brilliant dialogue (virtually none of which can be quoted in an all-ages forum such as this). Loosely narrated by Paul McGann's "I" character, this film depicts a brief period in the life of two struggling actors as they attempt to find booze, drugs and jobs in the dying days of the 1960s. The movie covers a wide spectrum from some scenes featuring the funniest lines that you'll ever hear to small touching moments that are surprisingly moving. This is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys good moviemaking.
Every character in the picture is superbly acted and written for. It's a testament to Bruce Robinson's directing skills that the characters compliment each other so well instead of clashing and overbearing the others as could so easily have happened. The secondary characters work as well as the leads and each one adds their unique flavour to the mixture. Robinson doesn't make the mistake of giving the smaller parts too much on-screen time and having them overstay their welcome. Each character says and does no more than they need to and leaves everyone wanting more.
Richard E.Read more ›
I love it.
(Though obviously not as much as Withnail cultists who have seen the film 20 plus times)
Ok. Here's the story:
Two chronically and hopelessly unemployed actors, Withnail (Richard Grant) and "I" (Paul Mc Gann) are living in absolute squalor in the London of the late 60's.
Between booze, cursing their agents, and wonderfully witty banter they fight to keep their spirits up, but it's a losing battle.
They come to the conclusion that they must escape The City to the countryside, even if only for a short while.
Withnail arranges matters by sponging from his uncle, Monty, (Richard Griffiths) a raving homosexual queen who is also obviously insane.
Needess to say the vacation turns out to be somewhat less than idyllic.
But the real joy of watching this film does not come from the plot. The comedic situations arise out of the wonderfully nutty yet completely believable characters--perfectly acted by the cast. You really feel you've met these people, a sense of deja vu, especially if you were around in the late 60's.
As to the dialogue, to call it brilliant is not high enough praise, This is one of the most quotable films, ever.
At the end, Withnail, who clearly wants to die, delivers Hamlet's 'What a piece of work is man' speech. It's a touching moment in a comedy. Chaplin himself couldn't have made it more poignant.
A cult classic in Europe, virtually unknown in the U.S.
Don't miss out on this one!
While it will resemble Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (including Marwood's living quarters, messy enough to rival Hunter S. Thompson's hotel suites!), the film itself is more about two drug addicts (and not to mention jobless actors) who gets away from the pessismistic atmosphere of London---and drugs---by moving into a cottage in that wonderful English countryside, where it's as cold as Greenland and as sunny as England can get (read: RAINY) in order to "rejuvenate". And as one can guess, what they really do is far from rejuvenation.
The cast themselves are excellent, from our anxiety-ridden narrator, Marwood, who frequently gets paranoid about things, to the main star of the film, Withnail, an alcholic with a tendency to say insulting things... as well as to recite a few lines of Hamlet, along with a bottle of booze, of course. Also of notable mention is Richard Griffiths, who plays the delightful role of Withnail's old-fashioned, homosexual uncle who lends to our to characters; and Ralph Brown, who plays drug dealer Danny---picture your stereotypical American "Dude", and then add in a British accent, holding the infamous "Camberwell Carrot", a collection of cigarettes rolled into one giant one!
A fascinating, exceptionally funny (in a British sense, of course!), and ultimately engaging, if unconventional, film, filled with outstanding perfomances, and great (if at times insulting, which makes it even greater) dialogue. A definite cult masterpiece, and thoroughly British, too.
Most recent customer reviews
It's a weird little cult film, but fun for anybody who has spent time around actors and/or residents of the British countryside. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Winefred's well
Did not enjoy it at all. Even the great Richard Griffiths could not salvage what was a pretty sordid storyPublished on April 30 2013 by Marjory d. Smith
I WANT to buy this product, but a vital piece of information is missing: is this widescreen format or the wretched "fullscreen" pan-and-scan version? Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2010 by kpb
I'll have to watch again, I missed some of the dialogue because of the English accents.Published on June 20 2009 by Mrs. Mountainside
Written and Directed by Bruce Robinson (who would later go on to make the Uma Thurman movie JENNIFER 8) WITHNAIL & I is a semi-autobiographical black comedy about two... Read morePublished on July 19 2004 by BD Ashley
I dunno, folks - you just gotta love England, eh? LOL...Published on June 8 2004 by Steve Sweeney-Turner