Category Archives: Imaginary British Cinema

#11 – One for the Road

(1992, GB, 116 min) Dir Peter Medak. Cast Bob Hoskins, Peter Capaldi, Emily Lloyd, Maureen Lipman.

An adaptation of Hans Fallada’s The Drinker transplanted into London in the 1930’s, following Hoskins’ businessman Eddie Summers as he descends into alcoholism. Led down the path by a single bottle of wine, before long he’s harassing Emily Lloyd’s saucy barmaid and being cheated out of his money by Capaldi’s mild but scheming Locke. By the end of the film he’s incarcerated in a sanatorium, spitting at his wife (Lipman) and, in a haunting final monologue, wishing on his death for the dim promise of the one last drink it will give him, the ‘One for the Road’ of the title. Medak has the period setting down following The Krays and Let Him Have It and, perhaps feeling liberated after the previous year’s Super Mario Brothers, Hoskins gives a committed central performance that humanises a difficult, unlikable character. Despite fears that Hoskins’ salesman character and the period setting would invite comparisons to Pennies from Heaven this grim spiral out-bleaks even it. Unfairly overlooked on release, time has unfortunately rendered it more obscure.

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