Withnail and I - Bruce Robinson


Expert Author Antonius Block

One of the best British films ever, according to its many fanatics, and one of the biggest cult movies, Withnail and I is the story of two unemployed actors, Withnail and Marwood (or simply I), living in Camden Town, London, in the 60s, and desperately trying to survive. They live in a very shabby and dirty flat, drinking and doing drugs, whilst waiting for the big chance, or at least a small part, just to make some cash. The script contains a vast array of witty punch lines, and there are many famous quotes off the film, especially lines belonging to Withnail, such as "I must have some booze. I demand to have some booze", or "I want something's flesh". The amount of alcohol drunk by Withnail during the film is life-threatening, and one can find on the net the complete list of such drinks, also associated to drinking games.

The character of Uncle Monty plays an interesting counterpoint to Withnail, highlighting even more his dysfunctional histrionics; Monty the well-spoken, Monty the prominently homosexual uncle, quoting poems, lover of all things beautiful, to whom Withnail tries to offer Marwood as a sacrificial lamb, in order to achieve his goal. But, then again, it is Marwood the real 'nemesis' to Withnail, and all the more so because he is not openly against him, he does not, generally speaking, antagonize him, but his actions, and the results of those actions, will serve as a clue to the attentive viewer to uncover a deeper symbolic level to the film.

The film could be defined tragic-comic, or a dark comedy; the story is based on director Bruce Robinson's own experience, whilst living in Camden in the 60s, and it must be a way of life many of us have experienced in London, at one time or another, albeit maybe not as extreme as we see in the movie.

Probably, this element must have contributed to the enthusiasm the film generated in so many people.


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