Writer/Director: Bruce Robinson
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
USA Release date: 19th June 1987
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 8th May 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I first saw this film many years ago when I stumbled in one night from the pub. I don’t remember much about it except that there was a drinking game associated with it… after that it all became a blur. So, many years later and much more sober I decided the time had come to give it another try, but this time without the obligatory drinking game. What I found was a quite bizarre, at times, tale that was not only entertaining, but also pretty funny too.
Withnail and his flatmate, Marwood, are two out of work actors who have a hard time keeping a grip on reality. To put it very mildly, they both like a drink and Withnail, in particular, will go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy his lust for the booze. Dissatisfied with the situation in London, Marwood persuades Withnail to get his uncle, Monty, to let them stay at his cottage in the Lake District. The pair drive up there only to find that life in the countryside is quite different to life in the city. They soon find their feet though, but have a bit of a run in with a local poacher. Uncle Monty drops in unexpectedly and pays Marwood a lot more attention than he would like. Can he get out of the situation with everything intact? Will Withnail stop drinking long enough to care? Will either of them ever find a paying job? All these and many more questions are answered in this interesting and amusing film.
The film is set in 1969 and a few of the songs that were popular at the time litter the soundtrack. This includes a snatch of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ by Executive Producer, George Harrison. Great performances all round, particularly from Richard E. Grant as Withnail and Paul McGann as Marwood, both really threw themselves into the parts. Also, Richard Griffiths was superb as the camp Uncle Monty. A special mention for Ralph Brown as their crazy friend Danny, a part he reprised (in the guise of Del Preston) in the 1993 film Wayne's World 2.
This is very much a character driven piece, and what characters we are given to enjoy. They are all larger than life, but are all people it’s possible to spot, if you do enough people watching that is. Although the plot was a little weak, I found after a while that didn’t matter, the people are just so entertaining… Recommended.
My Score: 7.5/10