Withnail & I

Director: Bruce Robinson
Year Released: 1987
Rating: 3.5

There's actually a very intriguing statement about friendship in this really, really offbeat indie from Bruce Robinson, where two "elegantly wasted" out-of-work actors will do anything for wine, booze or "a vacation." Richard E. Grant steals the show as Withnail, who slathers his body with some Mineral Ice-type cream to keep warm and drinks lighter fluid to get drunk. It would be overstating things to call it the Catcher in the Rye for the male slackers of the world, but there is a certain allure and universality to the picture (in a related documentary, one young college student muses how Grant is 'who every guy wants to be' when he's drunk or stoned). But to only mention the humorous, skit-type bits doesn't even come close to describing the sad undertones of the movie - there's a lot of laughter generated from pity and/or awkwardness, and it isn't hard to see Withnail's bemused apathy/anarchy as a defense against the (inevitable) rejection of others (the character, based on someone Robinson roomed with, is a tribute to his lively but pathetic - and tragic - friend). The ending caught me off guard - while it's the precise note the picture needed to close on, it was tossed in there too abruptly.