he character of Withnail, played by Richard E Grant, in the seminal movie classic Withnail And I, was based on a man called Vivian MacKerrell, with whom the movie’s writer and director Bruce Robinson once shared a flat.Grant never met MacKerrell – he was discouraged from doing so by Robinson. MacKerrell died over twenty years ago and tonight [ . . . ]
“The best British comedy ever made? Possibly. A masterpiece? Unquestionably.”– Ali Catterall, Film4
From the tender and impassioned sound of King Curtis’ live recorded cover of Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in the opening scene to the finishing drizzly goodbye by the wolf enclosure in Regent’s Park, Withnail and I is a funny, affectionate, and wistful perfection from writer/director Bruce Robinson.
While Robinson has never been a prolific filmmaker and his following films so far have proven a tad unfulfilling by comparison, nothing can temper or depreciate the strikingly idiosyncratic pleasures of his coming out party, Withnail and I. A lamentably sentimental comic chronicle of impoverished living in late-1960s Camden Town, the Swinging Sixties as presented by Robinson is a booze-fuelled, bleak and grimy place of dreggy pubs, unkempt cafes, and offensively filthy kitchens.