Monday, September 3, 2012

763. Withnail and I (1987)

Running Time: 107 minutes
Directed By: Bruce Robinson
Written By: Bruce Robinson
Main Cast: Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths, Ralph Brown, Michael Elphick
Click here to view the trailer


It's "Streaming Sunday" and I turn to the streaming portion of Netflix to check out another film from the 1980s - "Withnail and I", starring Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann.

Withnail (Grant) and "I" (McGann) are two unemployed actors, living in a disgusting apartment in Camden Town, at the end of the 1960s. Withnail is a booze hound, drinking ANYTHING that may give him the slightest buzz and feeling sorry for himself and for the fact that he can't get any acting work. The "I" of the story is more level-headed and potentially responsible, being more cautious than Withnail. "I" is also the narrator of the story, which starts out in Camden Town, in the flat of the boys as they desperately search for a way to get out of their deplorable living situation. It is suggested to Withnail, by "I", that he ask his uncle if the two could stay in his country home, as a sort of holiday for the two young men, getting away from their flat, in which they stay for days on end. Withnail agrees and imposes on Uncle Monty (Griffiths) to use his home for a holiday, to which Monty agrees. The two make the drive to the countryside and look forward to their holiday. However, when they arrive, they find that they're completely incapable of looking after themselves, nearly starving to death from lack of food and nearly freezing to death, if not for the kindness of a neighbor. The two do their best to survive in the desolate country and are eventually saved by the arrival of Uncle Monty, who brings groceries and heat to them, but also brings a healthy, homosexual appetite for "I".

For me, this film was more cozy than anything. On a hot summer night here in Pennsylvania, the air conditioner was turned up to a more than suitable setting and I huddled under our comforter, much like Withnail and I huddled close to the fire, as they burned pieces of Uncle Monty's furniture to keep warm. The rainy, dreary atmosphere of the picture only helped to provide a more inviting atmosphere. However, all in all, this film just wasn't worth writing home about. It was meant to be a comedy, but I don't think I laughed once and honestly, this film had a hard time pulling even a grin out of me. The comedy, often times, failed and didn't deliver upon my personal tastes, leaving me wondering what was so funny, other than, perhaps, Withnail's eccentric demeanor. There was nothing really wrong with the movie, nothing that I could put my finger on anyway. It's just that there wasn't anything "must see" about it either and ultimately it fell into that dead zone, somewhere in the average area. I will admit that the two leads were marvelous and I'd love to be able to see them in something a little more suited to my tastes. They were both delicious actors, whose performances were so rich with personality and character, that you could literally savor their words and actions. The music was really great too and I was delighted to hear King Curtis' version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale", a favorite song of mine ever since I heard it in "Life Lessons" (Martin Scorsese's contribution to "New York Stories". The film also features a few Jimi Hendrix tunes and even slips in a sliver of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by The Beatles. If you're picky about your films then you can give this one a pass, but if you're like me and wish to experience as many films as possible, then you might just end up having a lot of fun with this one. I, on the other hand, was less than thrilled with it.

RATING: 6/10  Like I said, this one falls into that dead zone, which consists of everything between a '4.5' and a '6.5' - films that I neither love, nor hate.


September 3, 2012  12:12am


  1. Hey Andrew,

    if ever you want to join the club and watch along with the rest of us, we'd love to have you

  2. A decided firm favourite of mine.
    And not just because it is local, which it is, very much.
    Penrith (The town where the tea shop is set)is only a few miles away, I shop there moderatly frequently, and I have walked most of the hills (or fells as we call them localy)shown.
    We are not all like the locals portrayed! Although I recognise the type they show as existing (certainly some 50 years ago) as exagerated, but, as in all good satire, some truth.
    (WHAT, the 60's are FIFTY years ago.. that is not possible)
    But also the 'southerners' from London and 'The student types' are exagerated , but based on truths...
    One of the most remakable thins about this film is that Richard E Grant, who plays one of the most convincing drunks/alcohilics going, is a total non drinker.

    1. Not a terrible movie by any means...I've certainly seen worse.


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