Monday, January 17, 2011

We've gone on holiday by mistake.

No 118 - Withnail and I
Director - Bruce Robinson

Oh dear oh dear oh dear

My notes for this film include such gems as:

I am very drunk.... this is a good thing for this I think

Eggs and things. Thay are food

(sic)
The next day I awoke to this:


We didn't play the Withnail and I drinking game.... Thank God. But we did take to the spirit of the film.

So we have a film about a relationship. One that feels true and real. One that is utterly self destructive and one that needs to change.
By the end, I think it does a bit. But until that point we get to see the glorious excesses of alcohol. Withnail could drink Bernard Black under the table without breaking a sweat....

It is infamously quotable and it celebrates a very middle class squalor of struggling actors and whacked out drug dealers who return in Wayne's World and who managed to get a friend of mine a job on the tellybox.

The film manages to glorify the dangerous excess of Withnail and Marwood (the titular I) without sugar coating it. Their life is a horrific mess of comedowns, danger, paranoia and falling over. Yet, the entire film has a filthy joi de vivre running through its emotional core. It means that they still remain aspirational.
Every person who has ever had a bottle of Merlot for breakfast does so because they have a romanticised vision of Withnail in their mind's eye. Which doesn't make sense considering he is a prick for almost the entirety of the film

Outside of the central couple we get some excellent supporting roles, the most important of which is the ever fabulous Richard Griffiths as the worryingly perverse and gloriously queeny Uncle Monty. A character who I have been described as on a disappointingly high number of times. Monty is a necessary addition because, whilst he is in no way adept to do anything, without him the protagonists would die.

I think the film ends with a certain amount of redemption from Marwood. I think he realises that he can't really continue to live this way.... but I can't really remember for the life of me. However, Withnail shows no such emotion. He has no arc. He is just a whirl of dangerous stinking anarchy.

So pull up a drink(s cabinet) and enjoy an amazing British celebration of everything that is right and wrong (often at the same time) with the spurned middle class world of wasters. Shout the catchphrases and get wasted. This film is not a film for spectators.... it is a horrible glorious squalid little film begging for participants.