Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Good British Comedy That Wasn't Made By Monty Python!

Copyright © 1987 Handmade Films Ltd.

Withnail and I (1987) stars Richard E. Grant (Withnail) and Paul McGann (Marwood or I) as two unemployed actors who live as flatmates in England. Rather than having a plot or a story, the film relies on dialogue to follow the the two men on a journey of friendship, discovery, and seperation in 1969. Writer director Bruce Robbins used his own past to create the odd characters that appear on screen. Withnail, based on a now decieced friend of Robbins, is an alcoholic with big dreams, but no ambition to fulfill them. His character passes the time with alcohol and vists from the local drug dealer Danny (Ralph Brown). Marwood as narrator spends the majority of the film as Withnail's sidekick while constantly making observations about his friend and his situation. While Marwood waits to hear about an audition, the two decide to go on holiday to the countryside, so they visit Withnails flamboyant Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). With Withnail's promise of a rendevous with Marwood, Monty allows them to use his cabin. Absolutley nothing goes right on their vacation. It rains the whole time, a poucher stalks them, they don't have any food, and they have absolutely no survival skills. Their friendship shifts when Monty surprises them at the cottage, and becomes extremely aggressive toward Marwood. Marwood then takes control of the relationship. When they return home, Marwood finds out that he got the lead role from his audition, while withnail goes straight for a drink.
Withnail and I shows two men at the end of their friendship, one moves on while the other refuses to grow. The dialogus is superb and a bit off kilter, with memorable characters who are not over the top, but seem to be exaggerated personalities.
A bit of trivia: Richard Griffiths who plays Monty is Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter movies
Richard E. Grant went from this incredible performance to appearing in the Spice Girls movie.

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