Newest Reviews
Female Fight Club
Fateful Findings
Transformers: The Last Knight
Foreigner, The
Clones, The
Monster Hunt
Happy End
Ugly American, The
Ritual of Evil
Vigilante Diaries
Happy Death Day
You Can't Stop the Murders
Legend of the Mountain
Man: The Polluter
Wolf Warrior II
Journey to the Seventh Planet
Ghost Story, A
Lady in the Lake
Devil at Your Heels, The
Paddington 2
Two Jakes, The
Re: Born
Dracula Sucks
Perfect Weapon, The
Hollywood Babylon
True Legend
Die Laughing
Newest Articles
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
  Withnail & I Desperation Is The English WayBuy this film here.
Year: 1987
Director: Bruce Robinson
Stars: Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths, Ralph Brown, Michael Elphick, Daragh O'Malley
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating:  7 (from 4 votes)
Review: “No, no, you can't. I've looked into it. Listen to me, listen to me. There are things in there, there's a tea bag growing!” comes the warning, as washed up thespian and shameless alcoholic Withnail (Richard E.Grant) brazenly attempts to clean out the kitchen sink. “You haven't slept in sixty hours, you're in no state to tackle it. Wait until the morning and we'll go in together.” “This is the morning.” Withnail snarls back. “Stand aside!”.

A darkly comic tale of desperation, writer/director Bruce Robinson’s post-mortem on the sixties plays out like one long hangover- its characters at the arse-end of a dying era, faced with the stark reality of their paltry existences and the inevitable onslaught of maturity, sobriety and worst of all, the seventies. The film moves with as little motivation as its protagonists, ambiently charting the exploits of its two out-of-work upper-middle class Londoners, their incessant boozing, their efforts to ward off unwelcome visitations from spaced-out dealer Danny (Ralph Brown), their ill-planned and largely accidental trip to the country, and their close encounters with Withnail’s outrageously queer relative Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). Grant’s central tragicomic performance is mesmerisingly unhinged, his beady eyes riveting around in his skull with absolute indignation, professing his own worth with completely unchecked arrogance.

Although in many ways a rites-of-passage tale, the film avoids the pitfalls of nostalgia or saccharine self-discovery, instead veering towards authenticity, graveyard wit and amused despair- perhaps the reason it hasn’t aged in the slightest since it first received lukewarm reception in 1987. Despite recasting Grant in his follow-up effort, the biting satire How To Get Ahead In Advertising, Robinson was never able to reach the eventual audience of his autobiographical debut again. Its unequivocal appeal is largely to do with the balancing act it pulls off, managing to be menacingly cynical, riotously funny, endlessly quotable and soft-centred all at once.

Miraculously, the film seems to continually spawn a new clique of loyal followers with each generation, and as such it has become an undying cult favourite amongst comedy connoisseurs. The fan base is so strong in fact, that it is somewhat superfluous to add praise to it. Simplifying things, actor Ralph Brown aptly attributes its success to the plain fact that “There are no crap bits in it”. Often imitated yet totally unparalleled by anything since, the film operates completely on its own level of droll intelligence, spark, humour and quintessential Englishness.
Reviewer: Dominic Hicks


This review has been viewed 4086 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Jason Cook
Paul Shrimpton
  Jony Clark
  The Elix


Last Updated: