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  • Gareth Crook

Withnail & I (1987) - 8/10

Rewatching after a long time. I’d forgotten how good this is… and how squalid. I bet there’s not many Camden flats now that look quite as uninhabitable as Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and I/Marwood’s (Paul McGann). This is where we meet Marwood who’s had enough, needs to get out. The vampiric Withnail isn’t really helping. Even if he’s fearlessly offering to do the washing up. It brings a whole new meaning to kitchen sink drama. “I feel unusual. I think we should go outside”. Withnail is ridiculously quotable, “I’m a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum!” and I think it’s fair to say that Grant drives this. His self pitying wallowing dramatics and selfishness emphasising their characters roles as out of work unemployable actors. Marwood though is just as funny with his neurotic inner monologue running faster than he can keep up with. In fact there’s not a dull character here. I mean just look at bare foot drug dealing Danny (Ralph Brown) with his pills stashed in a dolls head and his carrot sized joints. Before long they hatch a plan to escape to eccentric uncle Monty’s (Richard Griffiths) country pile. So off they head in the most knackered looking Jag on what now looks like a ridiculously underpopulated motorway. Only to find that all they’ve escaped to is rain and even more squalor. Digging for spuds with bags on their feet. Burning the furniture to keep warm and faced with a live chicken for dinner, they’re going to have to be resourceful. If there’s anything funnier than Withnail shooting fish, I’d like to see it. After managing to upset the local poacher things are looking dicey. Then Monty turns up and takes a shine to Marwood! He wants to escape… again. But Withnail’s having none of it. Griffiths is brilliant. In fact everyone is. This film still is. It’s the sort of film you can get lost in. Remarkable considering it’s simplicity on its surface, but these characters have depth. The relationship between the pair is much more than meets the eye and the dialogue from drug addled insights to Shakespeare is sublime. It’s lost none of its charm, in fact I think it might’ve gained some over the years.



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