By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on September 4, 2010)
WIthnail and I – Starz Blu-ray
Writer-director Bruce Robinson’s 1987 study of two impoverished actors slogging through 1969 London with high hopes and low squalor has earned a devoted cult following (guilty as charged).
Richard E. Grant excels as the decadently wasted Withnail, ably supported by Paul McGann (he would be the “I”). The two flat mates, desperate for a break from their cramped, freezing apartment, take a trip to the country, where Withnail’s eccentric uncle (Richard Griffiths) keeps a cottage. There are so many quotable lines(“We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!” or “I feel like a pig shat in my head.”). Ralph Brown nearly steals the film as Danny the drug dealer.
There are two Blu-Ray versions of this title; a “region-free” Starz UK release (the version I own) and a U.S. release by Image Entertainment. From what I have researched, the UK version has a slight edge on picture and sound. I can attest that the UK Blu-ray image is a vast improvement over Criterion’s DVD.