Obviously I am not here to review the movie. You have already seen Withnail And I a million times and if you had not before you met me, then I damn well will have made you as soon as I realised the hole in your cinematic education. McGann and Grant have never been better than they are in Robinson’s masterpiece and goodness knows I had a flickery old VHS of this for a number of years before this ultimate edition arrived on shiny disc.
The 2K restoration is beautiful, the film has never looked better, who knew squalour could look so pretty? The audio, whilst still oddly in mono is as clear as it has ever been and if the disc just included the film I would say it was an essential purchase, but there is plenty more here.
The Withnail And Us documentary is your traditional ‘talking heads’ style look at the classic film also featuring great insights from both Grant and McGann. As well as this there is an excellent documentary on the madness and brilliance of Bruce Robinson. Hear tales from the making of The Killing Fields and Withnail and hear how he writes, sitting filled up with wine in his office, walking around until the dialogue flows into the air, a fascinating look at a complex character. Interesting to hear that a number of years ago he wrote a screenplay for a version of JG Ballard’s High-Rise which would have been a classic double act at work. Shame is that we will never see it now that a version exists. Which is no slur on Wheatley, obvs.
There are two more features that are worth avoiding, a group of tedious students playing the Withnail Drinking Game who think they are the first people in the world to quote Withnail, thank god this feature is short, I shall certainly never spend any time with these idiots again. Similarly the feature of Withnail being shown on Brighton Beach just features a load of tedious tossrags quoting the film sat on a sofa. No thanks.
Yet this is not all, there are also two essential commentaries, one with Kevin Jackson, the author of the BFI Modern Classic on Withnail And I and even better, a commentary with Bruce Robinson himself, who shares plenty of things you did not know about the film, when you think you know it all. “Those statues outside Uncle Monty’s house, with the birdshit on? You know how they do that? Toothpaste!”
I can only applaud Arrow Video for yet another classic collection of a movie that deserved another look. They truly are the best Blu-ray/DVD company currently bringing back some of the best cult films in the world. Incredible.