Friday, August 20, 2004

MOVIE OF THE MONTH I'm still not sure how WITHNAIL AND I made it onto my radar--it landed mysteriously in my NetFlix queue--but Bruce Robinson's 1987 comedy is that rare animal: a successful buddy flick.

The film is apparently a cult classic in the UK, and it's not hard to see why: Robinson's offbeat, stylized approach shouldn't work, but it's exactly right for the material. Withnail and the narrator, a couple of out-of-work actors in late-60s London, flee the city for a couple days of peace and quiet at the rural country house of Withnail's Uncle Monty.

What follows is a kooky twist on the city slicker genre. There are farm animals, of course, and awkward encounters with locals. But the dead-on acting makes even predictable twists enjoyable, covering up a couple false moments in the process.

And the surprising ending rings true--its poignant enough to make you realize that between the laughs, Robinson has quietly told a very good story.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.