Withnail & I

  • Film
  • Comedy
5 Love It

Bruce Robinson’s film about two resting actors thrown together in London at the fag end of the 1960s, didn’t make much of an impression at the box office when it was released in 1988. But a few years later it became a hit on video, with copies being passed around teenagers and students, who watched it repeatedly until the tape began to jump and fade.

As time went on, many of the film’s quotable lines – ‘I demand to have some booze!’; ‘We’ve come on holiday by mistake’ – slipped into common usage. And ‘Withnail’ only gets better with time. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also tender and sad too, from the arresting sound of Procul Harum’s ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ in the opening scene to the final, rainy farewell between Withnail (Richard E Grant) and his unnamed friend (revealed as ‘Marwood’ in the screenplay and played by Paul McGann) in the last scene in Regent’s Park.

Already a curious mix of acerbic and wistful, the film carries an even sadder air since the death of the late, great Richard Griffiths, who steals the show as the desperate, repressed and out-of-time Uncle Monty.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday October 3 2014
Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bruce Robinson
Screenwriter: Bruce Robinson
Cast: Richard E Grant
Paul McGann
Richard Griffiths
Ralph Brown
Michael Elphick
Daragh O'Malley

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Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Tom Bruce

Lasse-moi, respirer longtemps, longtemps, l'odeur de tes cheveaux. Oh Baudelaire. Brings back such memories of being utterely arseholed. Oh, such memories! To be wasted and to watch Withnail and I... to this, not much else can compare. Alas, I've had my share of boozing and debauched tomfoolery, and the time has come to lay down the loutishness of my youth. Gladly, though, I can now actually remember watching Withnail and I the next day, and marvel at it as an undisputed masterpiece of tragi-comic cinema. So sad, so heart-achingly funny, so true to the English experience, whether then in the fading light of the 60s or now to students in this waking hell of loans and neverending pre-drinking. 

Bruce Robinson's raucous script gets me every time. It is brought to most distinguished life by Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, and, bless his dear departed sensitive ghost, Richard Griffiths, all of whom can be watched time and time again without ever tiring of them - their souls will live on forever in those performances. Everybody is a Withnail or an I, and everybody knows an Uncle Monty, too.

Withnail and I's every moment is to be savored, cherished. It is beyond perfect. Everything about it, down to its marrow, into its very nucleus, is sheer truth and beauty. It is life. And it is just as sweet, if not better, to watch it without being full of scotch, or a few ales, or the finest wines known to humanity, or all of them at once. Almost. 



Staff Writer

A sheer masterpiece of a film, rightly so has cult status.


This film is a little master piece - very funny, well observed and raw. On my Best Films Ever list.


A wonderfully intelligent, funny, honest and moving film that genuinely deserves its growing cult status.