Repertory Picks

A Buddy Movie to Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving night, one of the most beloved cult classics of the 1980s comes to Silver Spring, Maryland, as the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Centre plays host to Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I for a weeklong, four-screening stint. Based on his own experiences in late-sixties London, writer-director Robinson’s pitch-black comedy takes up with flatmates Withnail (the film debut of Richard E. Grant, currently drumming up Oscar buzz for his supporting work in Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and “I” (Paul McGann), unemployed actors who escape their booze-soaked city life for a holiday in the Lake District—to less-than-restorative results. The brilliantly performed buddy movie, distinguished as well by a foulmouthed, highly quotable script, has over the past three decades won over fans from all walks of life. In his top 10 for us, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen proclaimed Withnail and I to be “the best film about the demise of the sixties counterculture,” while in his own list of Criterion favorites, the late Anthony Bourdain hailed it “one of the funniest goddamn movies ever made.”

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