By now you're no doubt used to the navel gazey approach I take to the reviews in my Blind Spot series. As I've said before, the (for the most part) well known films I chose for this series have already been pontificated on and dissected to within an inch of their lives—not much new could I bring to critical discussions of these pictures. So why not make it all about me.
Which is why, in my discussion of the cult movie Withnail and I—
By the way, this will be the first cult movie I've covered in my Blind Spot Series. Come to think of it, Withnail and I is probably the only cult film I chose for this series. Whereas most of my other choices have been important films with cultural prestige, Withnail and I is—though quite well made and reviewed—more of a curio, one for the cultists; not a picture to be studied in film school. But it does pride itself on quite a devoted (and well earned) following.
Not to further delay my movie discussion, but I have a few more thoughts on this Blind Spot Series of mine. Looking at all my choices, I'm beginning to suss out some sort of meaning. Which is funny, because not much meaning was intended when I picked these flicks; I just quickly slapped together a list of films whose previous non-watching by me should have brought great shame to my movie geek self. So, considering the haphazard way in which this list was established, I’m amazed that I inadvertently compiled a nice cross-section of most that the world of film has to offer: classic pictures, art pictures, prestige pictures, musicals, foreign pictures, a documentary, a popcorn picture, and a cult picture. Wow, how thorough of me. I'm awesome.
But back to Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I. On the surface, this film belongs to both the “dudes getting seriously fucked up” genre and the "boomer nostalgia" genre. Two aspiring actors in waning 1960s England occupy themselves with a perpetual, epic bender. As you can see, not much plot here: basically a series of misadventures, the duo get fucked up a bunch until eventually I (the character is never given a name) lands a sweet acting gig, leaving his wasted friend Withnail behind. But not much digging beneath the surface reveals oh so much more to this seemingly simple tale.
This film most impressed me with its deft handling of semi-functioning addicts. Just watching this film, I felt hungover. Now I never sank to the depths of I nor, certainly, Withnail—indeed, I probably never sank to any sort of depths, whatsoever—but I did waste most of my twenties, my prime years, getting drunk a whole bunch, when I should have been working on my craft: you know, reading and writing a shit-ton. This was mostly a lost decade for me, not because I don't remember any of it, but because I stupidly wasted it. And Withnail and I so cleverly depicts the way that life can so imperceptibly, gradually slip away from you, how the important things can pass you by because you're more interested in, "let's get fucked up tonight; I'll put writing on the backburner." Oh would that I had cleaned my act up, much as I cleaned up his act, before I had gotten too old.