Withnail and I (1987)

Withnail and I (1987), written and directed by Bruce Robinson.

"My thumbs have gone weird!"

A British "fear and loathing" story set in 1969. If you like Hunter Thompson, this might be for you. In fact, Ralph Steadman did the original movie poster. If you don't like HST, well... maybe skip it. My wife did.

Unemployed actors Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and Marwood (Paul McGann) live a squalid existence of drugs, booze and bad craziness. The gonzo segments at the beginning and end are the best parts; the long middle is a trip to a bleak country house where Marwood fends off the aggressive sexual advances of Withnail's fruity Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths).

Ralph Brown as Danny the Drug Dealer is a great half-comic, half-sinister character. In a menacing argument:


Withnail: There's nothing invented I couldn't take.

Danny: If I medicined you, you'd think a brain tumor was a birthday present.

Withnail: I could take double anything you could take.

Danny: Very, very foolish words, man.

There is a slight story to go with the craziness: Marwood getting fed up, getting a job and getting out, leaving Withnail behind, declaiming Hamlet to the wolves at the zoo.

Available on Blu-ray, but it's only marginally better than the Criterion DVD, which was 4:3 letterboxed! It ain't no oil painting. I swear I've seen a different edit but am not going to try to prove it.