Withnail And I


As essential to any student house as traffic cones and pasta, it's easy to dismiss Withnail And I as the tedious obsession of drunken undergrads with too much time on their hands. Easy. And wrong. Bruce Robinson's semi-autobiographical tale of two `resting' actors at the fag-end of the '60s is an evocative depiction of a too readily romanticised era, and a moving tribute to a lost friendship. It's also bloody funny. Teetotaller Richard E Grant is extraordinary as Withnail, a bitter, drunken aristocratic thespian who goes "on holiday by mistake" with the angst-ridden `I' (Paul McGann) and his gay-as-Liberace Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). The plot's threadbare, but the pleasure is in the perfectly realised characters, superb performances and endlessly quotable, scabrous dialogue.

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