Watch it Again! Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987)

Pop reviews and in-depth analyses of current and classic films from around the world.

Living disillusioned in a post-Brexit Instagram-filtered age, standing at the periphery of the job market in a state of horror as the surplus of impressive graduates wander by, it is easy to feel alone. Marwood is the voice of reason when he reassures Withnail “we’re in the same boat”; we are all Withnail when he fires back “Stop saying that! You’re not in the same boat. The only thing you’re in that I’ve been in is this fucking bath!”

When Robinson wrote and directed this largely autobiographical low-budget film in 1987, he did not anticipate that the trials, tribulations, and hilarious mishaps of Withnail and “I” (played respectively by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann) would leave such a legacy. A coming-of-age comedy based on two hapless drunken out-of-work actors struggling through the bleak aftermath of the swinging sixties, the film offers a nostalgic yet ultimately unappealing portrait of the 1960s bohemian lifestyle. Living in squalor so intense they feel “unusual” when they enter the kitchen, the eccentric self-deluding thespian Withnail and the slightly more low-key narrator “I” (Marwood in the screenplay) are both disenchanted with life.

The appeal of Withnail and I lies in its ability to reflect our flaws and fears whilst making them indisputably funny. In the documentary Withnail and Us, Robinson himself sums up the timelessness of Withnail and I as a movie that “touches the moment we’ve all had when we’re all broke, all starving, all aspiring, and all knowing that it might not work in our lives.” As a final-year student I rejoice in the bleak realistic portrayal of a kitchen filled with unidentifiable matter, an unwavering belief in the curative powers of alcohol, and the general unease of aimless direction. Marwood’s maudlin realisation that they “are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell” in tandem with Withnail’s “I feel like a pig shat in my head” are sentiments embarrassingly yet undeniably relatable.

“I have some extremely distressing news. We’ve just run out of wine.”

Withnail’s first utterance in his iconic sophisticated slur sets the perfect tone for Bruce Robinson’s unbeatably British, ingenious tragicomedy Withnail and ILast year marked the film’s 30th anniversary, and like a fine wine, Withnail and I has improved with age.

When Robinson wrote and directed this largely autobiographical low-budget film in 1987, he did not anticipate that the trials, tribulations, and hilarious mishaps of Withnail and “I” (played respectively by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann) would leave such a legacy. A coming-of-age comedy based on two hapless drunken out-of-work actors struggling through the bleak aftermath of the swinging sixties, the film offers a nostalgic yet ultimately unappealing portrait of the 1960s bohemian lifestyle. Living in squalor so intense they feel “unusual” when they enter the kitchen, the eccentric self-deluding thespian Withnail and the slightly more low-key narrator “I” (Marwood in the screenplay) are both disenchanted with life.

The appeal of Withnail and I lies in its ability to reflect our flaws and fears whilst making them indisputably funny. In the documentary Withnail and Us, Robinson himself sums up the timelessness of Withnail and I as a movie that “touches the moment we’ve all had when we’re all broke, all starving, all aspiring, and all knowing that it might not work in our lives.” As a final-year student I rejoice in the bleak realistic portrayal of a kitchen filled with unidentifiable matter, an unwavering belief in the curative powers of alcohol, and the general unease of aimless direction. Marwood’s maudlin realisation that they “are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell” in tandem with Withnail’s “I feel like a pig shat in my head” are sentiments embarrassingly yet undeniably relatable.

Continue reading at BRIGHTLIGHTSFILM: Watch it Again! Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987) – Bright Lights Film Journal

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Thatcher’s Legacy In British Culture

As regular readers will know, I have been following the footsteps of British writer and director Bruce Robinson in recent weeks. His name is not well known, but he is the creative genius behind cult 80s movie Withnail & I, its ‘follow-up’ How To Get Ahead in Advertising and, more recently, Jennifer Eight and The Rum Diary. The latter saw him coming out of exile at the request of producer Johnny Depp, who remembered Withnail and wanted him for Hunter S. Thompson’s memorable story about a journalist in Puerto Rico. In fact, my Robinson journey began with the fabulous but long book about Jack The Ripper.

What I realised yesterday evening, while chuckling through How To Get Ahead In Advertising, is that Robinson belongs to a group of 70s and 80s British creatives which includes people like Roger Waters and Ken Loach. What they all share is an instinctive disdain or even hatred for Margaret Thatcher and her vision for Britain. As a child of the 80s, I can only say that Thatcher was a peripheral figure at home. Appearing on the news, invariably to cries of ‘that bloody woman’ from the men in whichever house I was watching TV in, she was our most popular leader, yet absolutely nobody admitted to ever voting for her. This is not a piece about Thatcher, but about Thatcherism. [ . . . ]

More: Thatcher’s Legacy In British Culture | The Z Review

Withnail and I by Bruce Robinson | The Z Review

Withnail & I
Withnail & I

 

As Thatcher’s 80s ground to their inexorable conclusion, a little independent film came out called Withnail and I. As for all independent films, it was nearly not made at all. George Harrison’s Handmade Films picked it up after he read the script on a plane to America, and the rest is history. It launched the career of Richard E. Grant and finally proved that its writer and director, Bruce Robinson, was better behind the camera than in front. (McGann’s career had already found its feet, the McGann brothers being a small acting legend in the UK.) [ . . . ]

Read Full Story: Withnail and I by Bruce Robinson | The Z Review

Bruce Robinson on the inspiration behind Withnail, disbelief in politicians and his hatred of smartphones


Driving towards the Herefordshire home of writer and director Bruce Robinson was already proving something of an ordeal. Here I was, about to interview the creator of what must be the UK’s and possibly the world’s most iconically cool film, Withnail and I, and I was driving a non-descript VW Polo and feeling distinctly sober. Of course, I should have been in a clapped out 1960s Jag, dragging on a Gauloise and recklessly swigging from a bottle of Haut Brion while listening to Hendrix [ . . . ]

More: Bruce Robinson on the inspiration behind Withnail, disbelief in politicians and his hatred of smartphones | The Independent

Withnail and I at 30:  10 reasons why Bruce Robinson’s caper is the greatest British comedy of all time

Withnail and I is a melancholic masterpiece and one of the funniest British films ever made.

Withnail and I is a melancholic masterpiece and one of the funniest British films ever made. For its one-liners alone Bruce Robinson’s sweary caper is rightly regarded as a classic: “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake”. “Don’t threaten me with a dead fish”. “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now”. These droll zingers are fired off at such a clip, multiple viewings are required to savour them in their full glory. [ . . . ]

Full Story at: Withnail and I at 30:  10 reasons why Bruce Robinson’s caper is the greatest British comedy of all time