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A wickedly bleak 'Withnail & I' reunion

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Grant_l

Grant_lRaise your hands if you belong to the Withnail & I cult, the happy few who know that the Richard E. Grant-Paul McGann comedy about two drunken, unemployed actors who’ve “gone on holiday by mistake” is one of the funniest films ever made. (Rent it now!) I find myself quoting it about once a day, usually to puzzled stares. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a Withnail cultist to appreciate “Always Crashing in the Same Car,” a short film that marks the first time Grant (pictured) and McGann have acted together in the 20 years since their hilariously awful country vacation.

In this 10-minute short, named after an old David Bowie song, Grant and McGann aren’t funny at all; the story is austere, bleak, and grippingly dramatic, in a Mamet-esque way. (The power brokers the two actors play speak in Mamet-esque language, too, so don’t watch this one at work.)  As much as I long to hear the pair uttering new bon mots from the pen of Withnail writer/director Bruce Robinson (“Always Crashing” was written and directed by relative newcomer Duncan Wellaway), it’s a treat to see that these two devilishly good performers are still in top form. London’s Times newspaper has helpfully saved the short as a video podcast, downloadable for free and playable via Quicktime. (Hat tip to Movie City News.)