Certain films can lodge in the mind and memory with a tenacity that doesn’t take any notice of their limitations. Such movies are beyond criticism, or they make criticism redundent as being beside the point. Critics often have a hard time accounting for them because their influence is often out of all proportion to their ‘quality’.
Such a film, for me, is ‘Withnail and I’, made in 1987. I can’t even remember when I first saw it, but it’s one of those films that are once seen never forgotten if your sense of humour is tuned to that special frequency.
Lines of dialogue come effortlessly to me, especially the first, spoken by Withnail, tall and gaunt, drunk at 9 o’clock in the morning: “I feel unusual”.
The character was played by Richard E. Grant, who strangely enough, grew up in Swaziland. I’m pleased to hear that he’s made a film about his childhood against the backdrop of the tiny country’s independence struggle in the late 60s called ‘Wah-Wah’.
Grant is also an accomplished writer and diarist and Picador are publishing his book about the making of the movie, ‘The Wah-Wah Diaries: The Making of a Film’. The Guardian Unlimited have an interesting little piece on the book.
I’ll leave the last line for Danny, the wasted drug dealer:
Danny: I don't advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.