“They're selling hippie wigs in Woolworth's, man. The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over.”
Withnail and I stands alone in the canon of British cinema.
It is the black comedy that has launched a thousand drinking games, whose hilarious seductively quotable lines mask a story of sadness and loss that lies heavy in your chest long after the last credits have rolledOver the last 30 years it has transcended its initial ‘cult’ classic status to become a touchstone for students, aspiring actors and anyone who has chased a creative dream into a life of poverty in the unforgiving city.
It may seem strange to pick this film for a season about ‘the city’ - after all, the two ‘resting’ actors spend much of the film trying to connive, and then miserably failing to execute their holiday in a remote Lake District cottage. And yet, it is this absence, the desire to flee but the need to come back to town that is quintessentially London - particularly, as is the case in Withnail and I, because it is where the work is.
As the old terrace houses are knocked down in the background, and the ‘wankers on the site’ set about building the new flats and apartments for what will become Thatcher’s generation, Withnail and I captures a London that was lost - of greasy spoon cafes, beaten up Jaguars and where artists and actors could find cheap digs in Camden Town.
At the same time, the image of a country in decay, where town and country treat each other with equal disdain and where the political inevitably is “shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour”, perhaps Withnail and I is - as ever - a perfect mirror for our times.
Please note - this is an outdoor screening so please dress up warm. Sound will be provided through wireless headphones to ensure highest quality for the audience.