I don't know how some films become revered, especially when they have a nonexistent story and rely solely on their crazy, over-the-top characters. Withnail & I has become the official favorite film of out-of-work, English actors and has even been given Criterion status, despite it being surprisingly forgettable. Granted, it stands entirely on the superb performances of Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, but if you look for excellence elsewhere, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything worth mentioning.
I get it. Artists are crazy. It's not new. It's been done hundreds of times. Making a film that tries to weave a shell of a story out of that ancient trope is ill-advised. There are so many moments in the film that try to be edgy, but just come off as sad attempts to stand out. Hell, every aspect of Withnail's character is insufferable and borderline despicable. He's a bad person, but because he's also an actor, we're supposed to relate and care about him. If anything, this film paints artists as irritatingly obnoxious bastards. I have no idea why they'd want to associate themselves with it.
This uneventful exercise in self-indulgence has only one silver lining, and that's the performances. The dialogue feels so forced, the story is barely there, and the characters are written as one-dimensional jackasses. Still, Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann seem to have fun with it, giving it their all in a film that I think would've fallen apart without them. This seems like one of those movies that aspiring actors and film critics have to say they loved in order to be seen or heard. Well, I didn't like it. If that damages my reputation, I'll be happy to repeat myself.