Set in 1969, the year in which the hippy dreams of so many young Englishmen went sour, 1986's Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I
is an enduring British cult. Fellow enthusiasts cry immortal phrases from the endlessly brilliant script to one another like mating calls; "Scrubbers!", "We want the finest wines known to humanity and we want them now!" Withnail is played by the emaciated but defiantly effete Richard E Grant, "I" (i.e., Marwood) by Paul McGann. Out-of-work actors living in desperate penury in a rancid London flat, their lives are a continual struggle to keep warm, alive and in Marwood's case sane, until the pubs open. A sojourn in the country cottage of Withnail's gay Uncle Monty only redoubles their privations--they have to kill a live chicken to eat. The arrival of Monty spells further misery for Marwood as he must fend off his attentions. This borderline homophobic interlude apart, Withnail and I
is a delight, enhanced by an aimless but appallingly eventful plot. Popular among students, it strikes a chord with anyone who has undergone a period of debauchery and impoverished squalor prior to finding their way onto life's straight and narrow.--David Stubbs
Bruce Robinson's celebrated cult comedy starring Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann. It's the end of the 1960s and two out-of-work actors, Withnail (Grant) and 'I' (McGann), subsist on a diet of booze, drugs and fags in their revolting Camden flat. In order to escape the depressing nexus of visits from their dealer and the months of untouched washing-up, they escape to the country, with the intention of getting some R and R at a cottage owned by Withnail's uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). However, things do not exactly go as planned, Withnail being particularly unsuited to the quiet social mores of countrypeople. The pair's friendship starts to become sorely tested amid the vicissitudes of their 'holiday'. More ominously, uncle Monty appears in person seemingly with something of an eye for 'I'.