Sunday, August 16, 2009

Withnail & I: Kinda like Harold & Maude, but not really

Watched Withnail & I last night. It was recommended to me by a couple of people, but I know it's not one that the masses will be familiar with. The short plot is 2 broke, unemployed actors who are best friends decide they need some time away from home and use one of the guy's uncle's summer cottages in the country. Hilarity, homo-eroticism and dead fish ensue.

At first watch, I definitely liked it. I love British humor and it reminded me of Harold and Maude in a lot of ways. Set around the same time period (but made almost 20 years apart), it just "felt" similar to me. The style of humor was similar, the visual aspects were similar, even the scores seemed to fit the movies in the same way. I don't think Harold & Maude was actually based in the UK, but it felt that way to me.

The bulk of the movie takes place in the country with these two guys trying to get away from home and their problems, but their problems seem to follow them there. They are still broke, they still seem unlucky, and they still frustrate each other even though they are best friends. There is a great subplot with the gay uncle following them there in order to get closer to the friend. They finally decide it's time to go home when "& I" (as he is named in the credits; I realized toward the end that I didn't actually know what his name was...I found the name Marwood online but don't remember hearing it in the film) gets an audition for an acting job. When they get home they find that all their problems are still waiting for them, and though Withnail is happy to just stay home and continue to get drunk, Marwood wants to move on with his life. It helps that he has something to move on to, while Withnail has nothing. Their lives have come to a crossroads and even though they care for each other, they know it can't stay the same.

I know a lot of people haven't seen this movie so I won't say anything more except to say you will probably like it. It's worth a watch for sure - I want to watch it again because I have a feeling I will like it more the more I see it. It didn't strike me the way Harold & Maude did the first time I watched it, and I didn't think it was quite as funny, but I'm definitely glad I watched it.

And one more thing...don't threaten me with a dead fish.

Withnail & I: 3.5 out of 5.

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